26 CFR § 53.4960-4 - Liability for tax on excess remuneration and excess parachute payments.

§ 53.4960-4 Liability for tax on excess remuneration and excess parachute payments.

(a) Liability, reporting, and payment of excise taxes -

(1) Liability. For each taxable year, with respect to each covered employee, the taxpayer is liable for tax at the rate imposed under section 11 on the sum of the excess remuneration allocated to the taxpayer under paragraph (c) of this section and, if the taxpayer is an ATEO, any excess parachute payment paid by the taxpayer or a predecessor during the taxable year.

(2) Reporting and payment. The excise tax imposed by section 4960 is reported as provided in §§ 53.6011-1(b) and 53.6071-1(i) and paid in the form and manner prescribed by the Commissioner.

(3) Arrangements between an ATEO and a related organization. Calculation of, and liability for, the excise tax imposed by section 4960 is separate from, and unaffected by, any arrangement that an ATEO and any related organization may have for bearing the cost of any liability for the excise tax imposed by section 4960.

(4) Certain foreign related organizations. A related organization that is a foreign organization described in section 4948(b) that either is exempt from tax under section 501(a) or is a taxable private foundation (section 4948(b) related organization) is not liable for the excise tax imposed by section 4960. A foreign organization is an organization not created or organized in the United States or in any possession thereof, or under the law of the United States, any State, the District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States. See section 4948(b) and § 53.4948-1. For purposes of this paragraph (a)(4) and the application of section 4960 to a taxable year, an organization's status as a section 4948(b) related organization is determined at the end of its taxable year. However, remuneration that the section 4948(b) related organization pays to a covered employee of an ATEO must be taken into account by the ATEO and other related organizations for purposes of section 4960 generally, including for purposes of determining the five highest-compensated employees and the total remuneration paid to a covered employee. For example, if an ATEO and its related organization that is a section 4948(b) related organization each paid $600,000 remuneration to a covered employee during the applicable year, then the related organization would not be liable for the tax that would otherwise be allocable to it, and the ATEO would be liable for tax on $100,000 (50 percent of the $200,000 excess remuneration paid to the employee).

(5) [Reserved]

(b) Amounts subject to tax -

(1) Excess remuneration -

(i) In general. Excess remuneration means the amount of remuneration paid by an ATEO to any covered employee during an applicable year in excess of $1 million, as determined under § 53.4960-2.

(ii) Exclusion for excess parachute payments. Excess remuneration does not include any amount that is an excess parachute payment as defined in paragraph (b)(2) of this section.

(2) Excess parachute payment. Excess parachute payment means an amount equal to the excess (if any) of the amount of any parachute payment paid by an ATEO, a predecessor of the ATEO, or a related organization, or on behalf of any such person, during the taxable year over the portion of the base amount allocated to such payment.

(c) Calculation of liability for tax on excess remuneration -

(1) In general. For each taxable year, an employer is liable for the tax on excess remuneration paid in the applicable year ending with or within the employer's taxable year. If, for the taxable year, remuneration paid during an applicable year by an ATEO or one or more related organizations to a covered employee is taken into account in determining the tax imposed on excess remuneration for that taxable year, then each employer is liable for the tax in an amount that bears the same ratio to the total tax determined under section 4960(a) as the amount of remuneration paid by the employer to the covered employee (including remuneration paid by the employer as described in § 53.4960-2(b)(1), but disregarding remuneration treated as paid by the employer under § 53.4960-2(b)(2)), bears to the total amount of remuneration paid by the ATEO under § 53.4960-2 (including remuneration treated as paid by the ATEO under § 53.4960-2(b)(2)).

(2) Calculation if liability is allocated from more than one ATEO with regard to an individual. If liability for the tax on excess remuneration is allocated to an employer from more than one ATEO in a taxable year with regard to an individual that is a covered employee of each ATEO, then the employer is liable for the tax only in the capacity in which it is liable for the greatest amount of the tax with respect to that individual for the taxable year. For example, assume ATEO 1 is a related organization to both ATEO 2 and ATEO 3 and pays excess remuneration to Employee D, and Employee D is a covered employee of ATEO 1, ATEO 2, and ATEO 3. In this case, ATEO 1's liability for the tax on excess remuneration to Employee D is the highest of its liability as an ATEO, as a related organization to ATEO 2, or as a related organization to ATEO 3.

(3) Calculation if liability is allocated from an ATEO with a short applicable year. If liability for the tax on excess remuneration paid to an individual is allocated to an employer from an ATEO with a short applicable year under § 53.4960-1(c)(3), then the liability with respect to the excess remuneration paid to that individual is allocated in accordance with the principles of this paragraph (c) adjusted as necessary to avoid, to the extent possible, duplication of application of the excise tax. The Commissioner may provide additional guidance of general applicability, published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (see § 601.601(d)(2) of this chapter), on the application of this paragraph (c)(3) to particular circumstances, including circumstances involving an ATEO with a short applicable year that has one or more related organizations and the ATEO's short applicable year and the preceding applicable year both end with or within the related organization's taxable year, such that the ATEO and related organizations are liable for the tax for multiple applicable years ending with or within the employer's taxable year.

(4) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of this paragraph (c). For purposes of these examples, assume that the rate of excise tax under section 4960 is 21 percent, that any entity that is referred to as “ATEO” is an ATEO, that any entity referred to as “CORP” is not an ATEO and is not a publicly held corporation within the meaning of section 162(m)(2) or a covered health insurance provider within the meaning of section 162(m)(6)(C), that no related organization is a section 4948(b) related organization, all taxpayers use the calendar year as their taxable year unless otherwise stated, and that no parachute payments are made in any of the years at issue.

(i) Example 1 (Remuneration from multiple employers) -

(A) Facts. ATEO 1 and CORP 1 are related organizations. Employee A is a covered employee of ATEO 1 and an employee of CORP 1. In the 2022 applicable year, ATEO 1 pays Employee A $1.2 million of remuneration, and CORP 1 pays A $800,000 of remuneration. Remuneration paid by each employer is for services performed by Employee A solely as an employee of that employer.

(B) Conclusion. For the 2022 taxable year, ATEO 1 is treated as paying Employee A $2 million of remuneration, $1 million of which is excess remuneration. The total excise tax is $210,000 (21 percent × $1 million). ATEO 1 paid 3/5 of Employee A's total remuneration ($1.2 million/$2 million); thus, ATEO 1 is liable for 3/5 of the excise tax, which is $126,000. CORP 1 paid 2/5 of Employee A's total remuneration ($800,000/$2 million); thus, CORP 1 is liable for 2/5 of the excise tax, which is $84,000.

(ii) Example 2 (Application when taxpayers have different taxable years) -

(A) Facts. Assume the same facts as in paragraph (c)(4)(i) of this section (Example 1), except that CORP 2 uses a taxable year beginning July 1 and ending June 30.

(B) Conclusion. The conclusion is the same as the conclusion in paragraph (c)(4)(i) of this section (Example 1), except that ATEO 1 is liable for the tax for its taxable year starting January 1, 2022, and ending December 31, 2022, and CORP 1 is liable for the tax for its taxable year beginning July 1, 2022, and ending June 30, 2023 (the taxable year with or within which ATEO 1's 2022 applicable year ends).

(iii) Example 3 (Multiple liabilities for same applicable year due to multiple ATEOs) -

(A) Facts. The following facts are all with respect to the 2023 applicable year: ATEO 5 owns 60 percent of the stock of CORP 2. Sixty percent of ATEO 4's directors are representatives of ATEO 3. In addition, 60 percent of ATEO 5's directors are representatives of ATEO 4, but none are representatives of ATEO 3. Employee B is a covered employee of ATEO 3, ATEO 4, and ATEO 5 and is an employee of CORP 2. ATEO 3, ATEO 4, ATEO 5, and CORP 2 each pay Employee B $1.2 million of remuneration in the applicable year. ATEO 4's related organizations are ATEO 3 and ATEO 5. ATEO 3's only related organization is ATEO 4. ATEO 5's related organizations are ATEO 4 and CORP 2.

(B) Calculation (ATEO 3). Under ATEO 3's calculation as an ATEO for the 2023 applicable year, ATEO 3 is treated as paying Employee B a total of $2.4 million in remuneration ($1.2 million from ATEO 3 + $1.2 million from ATEO 4). The total excise tax is $294,000 (21 percent × $1.4 million). ATEO 3 and ATEO 4 each paid 1/2 of Employee B's total remuneration ($1.2 million/$2.4 million); thus, under ATEO 3's calculation, ATEO 3 and ATEO 4 each would be liable for 1/2 of the excise tax, which is $147,000.

(C) Calculation (ATEO 4). Under ATEO 4's calculation as an ATEO for the 2023 applicable year, ATEO 4 is treated as paying Employee B a total of $3.6 million in remuneration for the 2022 applicable year ($1.2 million from ATEO 3 + $1.2 million from ATEO 4 + $1.2 million from ATEO 5). The total excise tax is $546,000 (21 percent × $2.6 million). ATEO 3, ATEO 4, and ATEO 5 each paid 1/3 of the total remuneration to Employee B ($1.2 million/$3.6 million); thus, under ATEO 4's calculation, ATEO 3, ATEO 4, and ATEO 5 each would be liable for 1/3 of the excise tax, which is $182,000.

(D) Calculation (ATEO 5). Under ATEO 5's calculation as an ATEO for the 2023 applicable year, ATEO 5 is treated as paying Employee B a total of $3.6 million in remuneration ($1.2 million from ATEO 4 + $1.2 million from ATEO 5 + $1.2 million from CORP 2). The total excise tax is $546,000 (21 percent × $2.6 million). ATEO 4, ATEO 5, and CORP 2 each paid 1/3 of the total remuneration to Employee B ($1.2 million/$3.6 million); thus, under ATEO 5's calculation, ATEO 4, ATEO 5, and CORP 2 each would be liable for 1/3 of the excise tax, which is $182,000.

(E) Conclusion (Liability of ATEO 3). For the 2023 applicable year, ATEO 3 is liable for $182,000 of excise tax as a related organization under ATEO 4's calculation, which is greater than the $147,000 of excise tax under ATEO 3's own calculation. Thus, ATEO 3's excise tax liability with respect to Employee B is $182,000 for its 2023 taxable year.

(F) Conclusion (Liability of ATEO 4). For the 2023 applicable year, ATEO 4 is liable as a related organization for $147,000 of excise tax according to ATEO 3's calculation, for $182,000 according to ATEO 4's own calculation, and for $182,000 according to ATEO 5's calculation. Thus, ATEO 4's excise tax liability with respect to Employee B is $182,000 for its 2023 taxable year.

(G) Conclusion (Liability of ATEO 5). For the 2023 applicable year, ATEO 5 is liable as a related organization for $182,000 of excise tax under ATEO 4's calculation, and is liable for $182,000 of excise tax under ATEO 5's own calculation. Thus, ATEO 5's excise tax liability with respect to Employee B is $182,000 for its 2023 taxable year.

(H) Conclusion (Liability of CORP 2). For the 2023 applicable year, CORP 2 is liable as a related organization for $182,000 of excise tax according to ATEO 5's calculation only. Thus, CORP 2's excise tax liability with respect to Employee B is $182,000 for its 2023 taxable year.

(d) Calculation of liability for excess parachute payments -

(1) In general. Except as provided in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, only excess parachute payments made by or on behalf of an ATEO are subject to tax under this section. However, parachute payments made by related organizations that are not made by or on behalf of an ATEO are taken into account for purposes of determining the total amount of excess parachute payments.

(2) Computation of excess parachute payments -

(i) Calculation. The amount of an excess parachute payment is the excess of the amount of any parachute payment made by an ATEO, a predecessor of the ATEO, or a related organization, or on behalf of any such person, over the portion of the covered employee's base amount that is allocated to the payment. The portion of the base amount allocated to any parachute payment is the amount that bears the same ratio to the base amount as the present value of the parachute payment bears to the aggregate present value of all parachute payments made or to be made to (or for the benefit of) the same covered employee. Thus, the portion of the base amount allocated to any parachute payment is determined by multiplying the base amount by a fraction, the numerator of which is the present value of the parachute payment and the denominator of which is the aggregate present value of all parachute payments.

(ii) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of this paragraph (d)(2). For purposes of these examples, assume any entity referred to as “ATEO” is an ATEO and all employees are HCEs of their respective employers.

(A) Example 1 (Compensation from related organizations) -

(1) Facts. ATEO 1 and ATEO 2 are related organizations. Employee A is a covered employee of ATEO 1 and an employee of ATEO 2 who has an involuntary separation from employment with ATEO 1 and ATEO 2. Employee A's base amount is $200,000 with respect to ATEO 1 and $400,000 with respect to ATEO 2. A receives $1 million from ATEO 1 contingent upon Employee A's involuntary separation from employment from ATEO 1 and $1 million from ATEO 2 contingent upon Employee A's involuntary separation from employment from ATEO 2.

(2) Conclusion. Employee A has a base amount of $600,000 ($200,000 + $400,000). The two $1 million payments are parachute payments because their aggregate present value is at least 3-times Employee A's base amount (3 × $600,000 = $1.8 million). The portion of the base amount allocated to each parachute payment is $300,000 (($1 million/$2 million) × $600,000). Thus, the amount of each excess parachute payment is $700,000 ($1 million−$300,000).

(B) Example 2 (Multiple parachute payments) -

(1) Facts. Employee B is a covered employee of ATEO 3 with a base amount of $200,000 who is entitled to receive two parachute payments: One of $200,000 and the other of $900,000. The $200,000 payment is made upon separation from employment, and the $900,000 payment is to be made on a date in a future taxable year. The present value of the $900,000 payment is $800,000 as of the date of the separation from employment.

(2) Conclusion. The portion of the base amount allocated to the first payment is $40,000 (($200,000 present value of the parachute payment/$1 million present value of all parachute payments) × $200,000 total base amount) and the portion of the base amount allocated to the second payment is $160,000 (($800,000 present value of the parachute payment/$1 million present value of all parachute payments) × $200,000 total base amount). Thus, the amount of the first excess parachute payment is $160,000 ($200,000−$40,000) and that the amount of the second excess parachute payment is $740,000 ($900,000−$160,000).

(3) Reallocation when the payment is disproportionate to base amount. In accordance with section 4960(d), the Commissioner may treat a parachute payment as paid by an ATEO if the facts and circumstances indicate that the ATEO and other payors of parachute payments structured the payments in a manner primarily to avoid liability under section 4960. For example, if an ATEO would otherwise be treated as paying a portion of an excess parachute payment in an amount that is materially lower in proportion to the total excess parachute payment than the proportion that the amount of average annual compensation paid by the ATEO (or any predecessor) during the base period bears to the total average annual compensation paid by the ATEO (or any predecessor) and any related organization (or organizations), and the lower amount is offset by payments from a non-ATEO or an unrelated ATEO, this may indicate that that the parachute payments were structured in a manner primarily to avoid liability under section 4960.

(4) Election to prepay tax. An ATEO may prepay the excise tax under paragraph (a)(1) of this section on any excess parachute payment for the taxable year of the separation from employment or any later taxable year before the taxable year in which the parachute payment is actually or constructively paid. However, an employer may not prepay the excise tax on a payment to be made in cash if the present value of the payment is not reasonably ascertainable under § 31.3121(v)(2)-1(e)(4) or on a payment related to health coverage. Any prepayment must be based on the present value of the excise tax that would be due for the taxable year in which the employer will pay the excess parachute payment, and be calculated using the discount rate equal to 120 percent of the applicable Federal rate (determined under section 1274(d) and the regulations in part 1 under section 1274) and the tax rate in effect under section 11 for the year in which the excise tax is paid. For purposes of projecting the future value of a payment that provides for interest to be credited at a variable interest rate, the employer may make a reasonable assumption regarding the variable rate. An employer is not required to adjust the excise tax paid merely because the actual future interest rates are not the same as the rate used for purposes of projecting the future value of the payment.

(5) Liability after a redetermination of total parachute payments. If an ATEO determines that an estimate made under § 53.4960-3(j)(1) was incorrect, it must reapply the 3-times-base-amount test to reflect the actual time and amount of the payment. In reapplying the 3-times-base-amount test (and, if necessary, reallocating the base amount), the ATEO must determine the correct base amount allocable to any parachute payment paid in the taxable year. See § 1.280G-1, Q/A-33(d) for examples that may be applied by analogy to illustrate the rules of this paragraph (d)(5).

(6) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of this paragraph (d). For purposes of these examples, assume any entity referred to as “ATEO” is an ATEO, any entity referred to as “CORP” is not an ATEO, and all employees are HCEs of their respective employers.

(i) Example 1 (Excess parachute payment paid by a non-ATEO) -

(A) Facts. ATEO 1 and CORP 1 are related organizations that are treated as the same employer for purposes of § 53.4960-3(e)(3) (defining separation from employment) and are both calendar year taxpayers. For 2022 through 2026, ATEO 1 and CORP 1 each pay Employee A $250,000 of compensation per year for services performed as an employee of each organization ($500,000 total per year). In 2027, ATEO 1 and CORP 1 each pay Employee A $1 million payment ($2 million total) that is contingent on Employee A's separation from employment with both ATEO 1 and CORP 1, all of which is remuneration, and no other compensation. Employee A is a covered employee of ATEO 1 in 2027.

(B) Conclusion. Employee A's base amount in 2027 is $500,000 (Employee A's average annual compensation from both ATEO 1 and CORP 1 for the previous 5 years). ATEO 1 makes a parachute payment of $2 million in 2027, the amount paid by both ATEO 1 and CORP 1 that is contingent on Employee A's separation from employment with ATEO 1 and all organizations that are treated as the same employer under § 53.4960-3(e)(3). Employee A's $2 million payment exceeds 3-times the base amount ($1.5 million). ATEO 1 makes a $1.5 million excess parachute payment (the amount by which $2 million exceeds the $500,000 base amount). However, ATEO 1 is liable for tax only on the excess parachute payment paid by ATEO 1 ($1 million parachute payment−$250,000 base amount = $750,000) that is subject to tax under § 53.4960-4(a). CORP 1 is not liable for tax under § 53.4960-4(a) in 2027.

(ii) Example 2 (Election to prepay tax on excess parachute payments and effect on excess remuneration) -

(A) Facts. Employee B is a covered employee of ATEO 2 with a base amount of $200,000 who is entitled to receive two parachute payments from ATEO 2, one of $200,000 and the other of $900,000. The $200,000 payment is made upon separation from employment, and the $900,000 payment is to be made on a date in a future taxable year. The present value of the $900,000 payment is $800,000 as of the date of the separation from employment. ATEO 2 elects to prepay the excise tax on the $900,000 future parachute payment (of which $740,000 is an excess parachute payment). The tax rate under section 11 is 21 percent for the taxable year the excise tax is paid and, using a discount rate determined under § 53.4960-3(i), the present value of the $155,400 ($740,000 × 21 percent) excise tax on the $740,000 future excess parachute payment is $140,000.

(B) Conclusion. The excess parachute payment is thus $800,000 ($200,000 plus $800,000 present value of the $900,000 future payment, less $200,000 base amount), with $40,000 of the base amount allocable to the $200,000 payment and $160,000 of the base amount allocable to the $900,000 payment. To prepay the excise tax on the $740,000 future excess parachute payment, the employer must satisfy its $140,000 obligation under section 4960 with respect to the future payment, in addition to the $33,600 excise tax ($160,000 × 21 percent) on the $160,000 excess parachute payment made upon separation from employment. For purposes of determining the amount of excess remuneration (if any) under section 4960(a)(1), the amount of remuneration paid by the employer to the covered employee for the taxable year of the separation from employment is reduced by the $900,000 of total excess parachute payments ($160,000 + $740,000).

[T.D. 9938, 86 FR 6219, Jan. 19, 2021]