The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Act”) contained a number of tax provisions that are likely to be of particular interest to and will directly impact most, if not all, of our bank and other financial institution clients. One of the tax provisions, the provision increasing the period that a net operating loss (“NOL”) can be carried back from two (2) to up to five (5) years, saw the addition of a provision that will substantially limit the number of taxpayers eligible to take advantage of the expanded carryback period. The new limitation makes it likely that only smaller financial institutions will be able to take advantage of the expanded carryback period allowed by the Act. The Act also repealed (with limited transitional protection) the relief provided in Notice 2008-83 issued by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) in the fall of 2008 that exempted certain losses on loans and foreclosure property incurred by banks from the NOL limitation rules applicable to built-in losses.
Increase in the Net Operating Loss Carryback Period
Original provisions coming out of the tax writing committees of the House and Senate included a provision extending the period in which 2008 and 2009 NOLs could be carried back from two (2) to up to five (5) years. The provision also eliminated the 90% limitation on the use of AMT NOLs that were carried back from 2008 or 2009. The limitations in the original provisions were that the expanded carryback period did not apply (i) if the bank or other financial institution received any money under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) (ii) to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or (iii) any corporation that is a member of the same affiliated group for income tax purposes as a bank or other financial institution that received TARP funds.
The Act retains the expanded carryback period for NOLs, but only for those generated in 2008 (or, at the election of the taxpayer, taxable years beginning in 2008). Further, only taxapayers that are “eligible small businesses” may take advantage of the expanded carryback period. An “eligible small business” that elects may carryback a 2008 NOL for up to five (5) years. An eligible small business is a taxpayer having less than $15,000,000 in average annual gross receipts for the three (3) years prior to the year in which the NOL occurs. Thus, the usefulness to most financial institutions of the expanded NOL carryback provisions appears to have been severely limited by the change in eligibility requirements.
Repeal of IRS Notice 2008-83
The Act retains the provisions repealing IRS Notice 2008-83 originally included in the House bill and subsequently added to the Senate bill. An explanation of these provisions is set forth below.