U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Oct 27, 2020
(a) Overview - (1) Purpose. This section sets forth a safe harbor that, under certain circumstances, permits taxpayers to elect to use the values of positions reported on certain financial statements as the fair market values of those positions for purposes of section 475. This safe harbor is based on the principle that, if a mark-to-market method used for financial reporting is sufficiently consistent with the requirements of section 475 and if the financial statement employing that method has certain indicia of reliability, then the values used on that financial statement may be used for purposes of section 475. If other provisions of the Internal Revenue Code or regulations require adjustments to fair market value, use of the safe harbor does not eliminate the need for those adjustments. See paragraph (e) of this section.
(2) Dealer business model. The safe harbor is based on the business model for a derivatives dealer. Under this model, the dealer seeks to capture and profit from bid-ask spreads in the marketplace by entering into substantially offsetting positions with customers that will remain on the derivatives dealer's books over their terms. Because the positions in the aggregate tend to offset each other, the dealer has achieved a predictable net cash flow (for example, a synthetic annuity) that reflects the captured bid-ask spread. This net cash flow is generally impervious to market fluctuations in the values on which the component derivatives are based. Section 475 requires current recognition of the present value of the net cash flow attributable to the capture of these spreads.
(3) Summary of paragraphs. Paragraph (b) of this section sets forth the safe harbor. To determine who may use the safe harbor, paragraph (c) of this section defines the term “eligible taxpayer.” Paragraph (d) of this section sets forth the basic requirements for determining whether the method used for financial reporting is sufficiently consistent with the requirements of section 475. Paragraph (e) of this section describes adjustments to the financial statement values that may be required for purposes of applying this safe harbor. Paragraph (f) of this section describes the procedure for making the safe harbor election and the conditions under which the election may be revoked. Paragraph (g) of this section provides that the Commissioner will issue a revenue procedure that lists the types of securities and commodities that are eligible positions for purposes of the safe harbor. Using rules for determining priorities among financial statements, paragraph (h) of this section defines the term “applicable financial statement” and so describes the financial statement, if any, whose values may be used in the safe harbor. In some cases, as required by paragraph (j) of this section, the safe harbor is available only if the taxpayer's operations make significant business use of financial statement values. Paragraph (k) of this section sets forth requirements for record retention and record production. Paragraph (m) of this section provides that the Commissioner may use fair market values that clearly reflect income, but which differ from values used on the applicable financial statement, if an electing taxpayer fails to comply with the recordkeeping and record production requirements of paragraph (k) of this section.
(b) Safe harbor - (1) General rule. Subject to any adjustment required by paragraph (e) of this section, if an eligible taxpayer uses an eligible method for the valuation of an eligible position on its applicable financial statement and the eligible taxpayer is subject to the election described in paragraph (f) of this section, the value that the eligible taxpayer assigns to that eligible position on its applicable financial statement is the fair market value of the eligible position for purposes of section 475 and must be used for purposes of section 475, even if that value is not the fair market value of the position for any other purpose of the internal revenue laws. Notwithstanding the rule set forth in this paragraph, the Commissioner may, in certain circumstances, use fair market values that clearly reflect income but differ from the values used on the applicable financial statement. See paragraph (m) of this section.
(2) Example. Use of eligible and non-eligible methods. X uses eligible methods on its applicable financial statement for some, but not all, securities and commodities that are eligible positions. When X elects into the safe harbor, the election applies to all eligible positions for which X has an eligible method. Therefore, once the election is in effect, the financial statement values for eligible positions for which X has an eligible method are the fair market values of those eligible positions for purposes of section 475. Since X, however, does not have an eligible method for all eligible positions, those eligible positions for which X does not have an eligible method remain subject to the fair market value requirements of section 475 as set out in case law and otherwise.
(3) Scope of the safe harbor. The safe harbor may be used only to determine values for eligible positions that are properly marked to market under section 475. It does not determine whether any positions may or may not be subject to mark-to-market accounting under section 475.
(c) Eligible taxpayer. An eligible taxpayer is -
(1) A dealer in securities, as defined in section 475(c)(1); or
(2) A dealer in commodities, as defined in section 475(e), that is subject to an election under section 475(e).
(d) Eligible method - (1) Sufficient consistency. An eligible method is a mark-to-market method that is sufficiently consistent with the requirements of a mark-to-market method under section 475. To be sufficiently consistent with the requirements of a mark-to-market method under section 475, the eligible method must satisfy all of the requirements of paragraph (d)(2) and paragraph (d)(3) of this section.
(2) General requirements. The method -
(i) Frequency. Must require a valuation of the eligible position no less frequently than annually, including a valuation as of the last business day of the taxable year;
(ii) Recognition at the mark. Must recognize into income on the income statement for each taxable year mark-to-market gain or loss based upon the valuation or valuations described in paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section;
(iii) Recognition on disposition. Must require, on disposition of the eligible position, recognition into income (on the income statement for the taxable year of disposition) as if a year-end mark occurred immediately before such disposition; and
(iv) Fair value standard. Must require use of a valuation standard that arrives at fair value in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (U.S. GAAP).
(3) Limitations - (i) Bid-ask method - (A) General rule. Except for eligible positions that are traded on a qualified board or exchange, as defined in section 1256(g)(7), or eligible positions that the Commissioner designates in a revenue procedure or other published guidance, the valuation standard used must not, other than on a de minimis portion of a taxpayer's positions, permit values at or near the bid or ask value. Consequently, the valuation method described in § 1.471-4(a)(1) fails to satisfy this paragraph (d)(3)(i)(A).
(B) Safe harbor. The restriction in paragraph (d)(3)(i)(A) of this section is satisfied if the method consistently produces values that are closer to the mid-market values than they are to the bid or ask values.
(ii) Valuations based on present values of projected cash flows. If the method of valuation consists of projecting cash flows from an eligible position or positions and determining the present value of those cash flows, the method must not take into account any cash flows attributable to a period or time on or before the valuation date. In addition, adjustment of the gain or loss recognized on the mark may be required with respect to payments that will be made after the valuation date to the extent that portions of the payments have been recognized for tax purposes before the valuation and appropriate adjustment has not been made for purposes of determining financial statement value.
(iii) Accounting for costs and risks. Valuations may account for appropriate costs and risks, but no cost or risk may be accounted for more than once, either directly or indirectly. Further, no valuation adjustment for any cost or risk may be made for purposes of this safe harbor if that valuation adjustment is not also permitted by, and taken for, U.S. GAAP purposes on the taxpayer's applicable financial statement. If appropriate, the costs and risks that may be accounted for include, but are not limited to, credit risk (appropriately adjusted for any credit enhancement), future administrative costs, and model risk. An adjustment for credit risk is implicit in computing the present value of cash flows using a discount rate greater than a risk-free rate. Accordingly, a determination of whether any further downward adjustment to value for credit risk is warranted, or whether an upward adjustment is required, must take that implicit adjustment into consideration.
(4) Examples. The following examples illustrate this paragraph (d):
(ii) Under X's valuation method, as of each valuation date, X determines a mid-market probability distribution of future cash flows under the derivatives and computes the present values of these cash flows. In computing these present values, X uses an industry standard yield curve that is appropriate for obligations by persons with this same general credit quality. In addition, based on information that includes its own knowledge about the counterparties, X adjusts some of these present values either upward or downward to reflect X's reasonable judgment about the extent to which the true credit status of each counterparty's obligation, taking credit enhancements into account, differs from the general credit quality used in the yield curve to present value the derivatives.
(iii) X's methodology does not violate the requirement in paragraph (d)(3)(iii) of this section that the same cost or risk not be taken into account, directly or indirectly, more than once.
(iv) Applicability date. This Example 1 applies to valuations of securities on or after July 6, 2011.
(ii) X's methodology does not violate the requirement in paragraph (d)(3)(iii) of this section that the same cost or risk not be taken into account, directly or indirectly, more than once.
(iii) Applicability date. This Example 2 applies to valuations of securities on or after July 6, 2011.
(ii) X's methodology violates the requirement in paragraph (d)(3)(iii) of this section that the same cost or risk not be taken into account, directly or indirectly, more than once. By using the same general credit quality discount rate, X's method takes into account the difference between risk-free obligations and obligations with that lower credit quality. By adjusting values for the difference between a higher credit quality and that lower credit quality, X takes into account risks that it had already accounted for through the discount rates that it used. The same result would occur if X judged some of its counterparties' obligations to be of a higher credit quality but X failed to adjust the values of those obligations to reflect the difference between a higher credit quality and the lower credit quality.
(iii) Applicability date. This Example 3 applies to valuations of securities on or after July 6, 2011.
(ii) X's methodology violates the rule in paragraph (d)(3)(i) of this section that forbids valuing positions at or near the bid or ask value.
(ii) X's methodology does not violate the rule in paragraph (d)(3)(i)(A) of this section that forbids valuing eligible positions at or near the bid or ask value.
(e) Compliance with other rules. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the fair market values for purposes of the safe harbor must be consistent with section 482, or rules that adopt section 482 principles, when applicable. For example, if a notional principal contract is subject to section 482 or section 482 principles, the values of future cash flows taken into account in determining the value of the contract for purposes of section 475 must be consistent with section 482.
(f) Election - (1) Making the election. Unless the Commissioner prescribes otherwise, an eligible taxpayer elects under this section by filing with the Commissioner a statement declaring that the taxpayer makes the safe harbor election in this section for all eligible positions for which it has an eligible method. In addition to any other information that the Commissioner may require, the statement must describe the taxpayer's applicable financial statement for the first taxable year for which the election is effective and must state that the taxpayer agrees to provide upon the request of the Commissioner all information, records, and schedules in the manner required by paragraph (k) of this section. The statement must be attached to a timely filed Federal income tax return (including extensions) for the taxable year for which the election is first effective.
(2) Duration of the election. Once made, the election continues in effect for all subsequent taxable years unless revoked.
(3) Revocation - (i) By the taxpayer. An eligible taxpayer that is subject to an election under this section may revoke the election only with the consent of the Commissioner.
(ii) By the Commissioner. The Commissioner, after consideration of the relevant facts and circumstances, may revoke an election under this section, effective beginning with the first open year for which the election is effective or with any subsequent year, if -
(A) The taxpayer fails to comply with paragraph (k) of this section (concerning record retention and production) and the taxpayer does not show reasonable cause for this failure;
(B) The taxpayer ceases to have an applicable financial statement or ceases to use an eligible method; or
(C) For any other reason, no more than a de minimis number of eligible positions, or no more than a de minimis fraction of the taxpayer's eligible positions, are covered by the safe harbor in paragraph (b) of this section.
(4) Re-election. If an election is revoked, either by the Commissioner or by the taxpayer, the taxpayer (or any successor in interest of the taxpayer) may not make the election without the consent of the Commissioner for any taxable year that begins before the date that is six years after the first day of the earliest taxable year affected by the revocation.
(g) Eligible positions. For any taxpayer, an eligible position is any security or commodity that the Commissioner in a revenue procedure or other published guidance designates as an eligible position with respect to that taxpayer for purposes of this safe harbor.
(h) Applicable financial statement - (1) Definition. An eligible taxpayer's applicable financial statement for a taxable year is the taxpayer's primary financial statement for that year if that primary financial statement is described in paragraph (h)(2)(i) of this section (concerning statements required to be filed with the SEC) or if that primary financial statement both meets the requirements of paragraph (j) of this section (concerning significant business use) and is described in either paragraph (h)(2)(ii) or (iii) of this section. Otherwise, or if the taxpayer does not have a primary financial statement for the taxable year, the taxpayer does not have an applicable financial statement for the taxable year.
(2) Primary financial statement. For any taxable year, an eligible taxpayer's primary financial statement is the financial statement, if any, described in one or more of paragraphs (h)(2)(i), (ii), and (iii) of this section. If more than one financial statement of the taxpayer for the year is so described, the primary financial statement is the one first described in paragraphs (h)(2)(i), (ii), and (iii) of this section. A taxpayer has only one primary financial statement for any taxable year.
(i) Statement required to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A financial statement that is prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP and that is required to be filed with the SEC, such as the 10--K or the Annual Statement to Shareholders.
(ii) Statement filed with a Federal agency other than the Internal Revenue Service. A financial statement that is prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP and that is required to be provided to the Federal government or any of its agencies other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
(iii) Certified audited financial statement. A certified audited financial statement that is prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP; that is given to creditors for purposes of making lending decisions, given to equity holders for purposes of evaluating their investment in the eligible taxpayer, or provided for other substantial non-tax purposes; and that the taxpayer reasonably anticipates will be directly relied on for the purposes for which it was given or provided.
(3) Example. Primary financial statement. X prepares financial statement FS1, which is required to be filed with a Federal government agency other than the SEC or the IRS. FS1 is thus described in paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of this section. X also prepares financial statement FS2, which is a certified audited financial statement that is given to creditors and that X reasonably anticipates will be relied on for purposes of making lending decisions. FS2 is thus described in paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of this section. Because FS1, which is described in paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of this section, is described before FS2, which is described in paragraph (h)(2)(iii) of this section, FS1 is X's primary financial statement.
(4) Financial statements of equal priority. If the rules of paragraph (h)(2) of this section cause two or more financial statements to be of equal priority, then the statement that results in the highest aggregate valuation of eligible positions being marked to market under section 475 is the primary financial statement.
(5) Consolidated groups. If the taxpayer is a member of an affiliated group that files a consolidated return, the primary financial statement of the taxpayer is the primary financial statement, if any, of the common parent (within the meaning of section 1504(a)(1)) of the consolidated group.
(6) Supplement or amendment to a financial statement. A financial statement includes any supplement or amendment to the financial statement.
(7) Certified audited financial statement. For purposes of this paragraph (h), a financial statement is a certified audited financial statement if it is certified by an independent certified public accountant from a Registered Public Accounting firm, as defined in section 2(a)(12) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Public Law 107-204, 116 Stat. 746 (July 30, 2002), 15 U.S.C. § 7201(a)(12), and rules promulgated under that Act, and is -
(i) Certified to be fairly presented (a “clean” opinion);
(ii) Certified to be fairly presented subject to a concern about a contingency, other than a contingency relating to the value of eligible positions (a qualified “subject to” opinion); or
(iii) Certified to be fairly presented except for a method of accounting with which the Certified Public Accountant disagrees and which is not a method used to determine the value of an eligible position held by the eligible taxpayer (a qualified “except for” opinion).
(j) Significant business use - (1) In general. A financial statement is described in this paragraph (j) if -
(i) The financial statement contains values for eligible positions;
(ii) The eligible taxpayer makes significant use of financial statement values in most of the significant management functions of its business; and
(iii) That use is related to the management of all or substantially all of the eligible taxpayer's business.
(2) Financial statement value. For purposes of this paragraph (j), the term financial statement value means -
(i) A value that is taken from the financial statement; or
(ii) A value that is produced by a process that is in all respects identical to the process that produces the values that appear on the financial statement but that is not taken from the statement because either -
(A) The value was determined as of a date for which the financial statement does not value eligible positions; or
(B) The value is used in the management of the business before the financial statement has been prepared.
(3) Management functions of a business. For purposes of this paragraph (j), the term management functions of a business refers to the financial and commercial oversight of the business. Oversight includes, but is not limited to, senior management review of business-unit profitability, market risk measurement or management, credit risk measurement or management, internal allocation of capital, and compensation of personnel. Management functions of a business do not include either tax accounting or reporting the results of operations to persons other than directors or employees.
(4) Significant use. If an eligible taxpayer uses financial statement values for some significant management functions and uses values that are not financial statement values for other significant management functions, then the determination of whether the taxpayer has made significant use of the financial statement values is made on the basis of all the facts and circumstances. This determination must particularly take into account whether the taxpayer's reliance on the financial statement values exposes the taxpayer to material adverse economic consequences if the values are incorrect.
(k) Retention and production of records - (1) In general. In addition to all records that section 6001 otherwise requires to be retained, an eligible taxpayer subject to the election provided by this section must keep, and timely provide to the Commissioner upon request, records and books of account that are sufficient to establish that the financial statement to which the income tax return conforms is the taxpayer's applicable financial statement, that the method used on that statement is an eligible method, and that the values used for eligible positions for purposes of section 475 are the values used in the applicable financial statement. This obligation extends to all records and books that are required to be maintained for any period for financial or regulatory reporting purposes, even if these records or books may not otherwise be specifically covered by section 6001. All records and books described in this paragraph (k) must be maintained for the period described in paragraph (k)(4) of this section, even if a lesser period of retention applies for financial statement or regulatory purposes.
(2) Specific requirements - (i) Verification and reconciliation. Unless the Commissioner otherwise provides -
(A) In general. An eligible taxpayer must provide books and records to verify the appropriate use of the safe harbor and reconciliation schedules between the applicable financial statement for the taxable year and the Federal income tax return for that year. The required verification materials and reconciliation schedules include all supporting schedules, exhibits, computer programs, and any other information used in producing the values and schedules, including the documentation of rules and procedures governing determination of the values. The required reconciliation schedules must also include a detailed explanation of any adjustments necessitated by the imperfect overlap between the eligible positions that the taxpayer marks to market under section 475 and the eligible positions for which the applicable financial statement uses an eligible method. In the time and manner provided by the Commissioner, a corporate taxpayer subject to this paragraph (k) must reconcile the net income amount reported on its applicable financial statement to the amount reported on the applicable forms and schedules on its Federal income tax return (such as the Schedule M-1, “Net Income(Loss) Reconciliation for Corporations With Total Assets of $10 Million or More”; Schedule M-3, “Net Income(Loss) Reconciliation for Corporations With Total Assets of $10 Million or More”; and Form 1120F, “U.S. Income Tax Return of a Foreign Corporation”). Eligible taxpayers that are not otherwise required to file a Schedule M-1 or Schedule M-3 must reconcile net income using substitute schedules similar to Schedule M-1 and Schedule M-3, and these substitute schedules must be attached to the return.
(B) Values on books and records with supporting schedules. The books and records must state the value used for each eligible position separately from the value used for any other eligible position. However, an eligible taxpayer may make adjustments to values on a pooled basis, if the taxpayer demonstrates that it can compute gain or loss attributable to the sale or other disposition of an individual eligible position.
(C) Consolidation schedules. An eligible taxpayer must provide a schedule showing the consolidation and de-consolidation that is used in preparing the applicable financial statement, along with exhibits and subordinate schedules. This schedule must provide information that addresses the differences for consolidation and de-consolidation between the applicable financial statement and the Federal income tax return.
(ii) Instructions provided by the Commissioner. The Commissioner may provide an alternative time or manner in which an eligible taxpayer subject to this paragraph (k) must establish that the same values used for eligible positions on the applicable financial statement are also the values used for purposes of section 475 on the Federal income tax return.
(3) Time for producing records. All documents described in this paragraph (k) must be produced within 30 days of a request by the Commissioner, unless the Commissioner grants a written extension. Generally, the Commissioner will exercise his discretion to excuse a minor or inadvertent failure to provide requested documents if the taxpayer shows reasonable cause for the failure, has made a good faith effort to comply with the requirement to produce records, and promptly remedies the failure. For failures to maintain, or timely produce, records, see paragraph (f)(3)(ii) of this section (allowing the Commissioner to revoke the election), and see paragraph (m) of this section (allowing the Commissioner, but not the taxpayer, to use for eligible positions that otherwise might be subject to the safe harbor fair market values that clearly reflect income but that are different from the values used on the applicable financial statement).
(4) Retention period for records. All materials required by this paragraph (k) and section 6001 must be retained as long as their contents may become material in the administration of any internal revenue law.
(5) Agreements with the Commissioner. The Commissioner and an eligible taxpayer may enter into a written agreement that establishes, for purposes of this paragraph (k), which records must be maintained, how they must be maintained, and for how long they must be maintained.
(m) Use of different values. If, with respect to the records that relate to certain eligible positions for a taxable year, the taxpayer fails to satisfy paragraph (k) of this section (concerning record retention and record production), then, for those eligible positions for that year, the Commissioner may use values that the Commissioner determines to be fair market values that are appropriate to clearly reflect income, even if the values so determined are different from the values reported for those positions on the applicable financial statement. See also paragraph (f)(3)(ii) of this section (concerning revocation of the election by the Commissioner when a taxpayer does not produce required records and fails to demonstrate reasonable cause for the failure).