On Aug. 9, 2019, the IRS issued proposed regulations (Proposed Regulations) addressing the U.S. federal income tax treatment of cross-border cloud transactions. The Proposed Regulations will not become effective until final rules are adopted.
By way of background, the last time the IRS meaningfully addressed the taxation of cross-border digital content transfers was in October 1998 (1998 Regulations), which applied to software transfers.
Technological developments over the last twenty years – specifically the advent of cloud computing and streaming content – rendered the 1998 Regulations outdated. The IRS stated that the purpose of the Proposed Regulations is to bring IRS regulations current with such technological advancements.
The Proposed Regulations cover, for the first time, transactions involving:
- Certain on-demand network-access transactions (Cloud Transactions) that include:
- On-demand network access to “computing resources” such as software, networks, databases, servers, and other technological resources. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) transactions fall into this category;
- On-demand network access to “technological resources” such as streaming music and videos, transactions involving mobile development applications (apps), and access to data through remotely hosted software; and
- The transfer of other digital content (Digital Content Transfers). The transfer of books, movies, and music in digital format for storage and use on a person’s computer or other electronic device falls into this category.
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