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What Companies Should Know About (BEAT) Base Erosion & Anti-Abuse Tax

What Companies Should Know About (BEAT) Base Erosion & Anti-Abuse Tax

In recent years, the Base Erosion and Anti-abuse Tax (BEAT) has become an important consideration for many companies operating in the United States. BEAT was introduced in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) as a way to prevent large multinational companies from shifting profits to low-tax countries and avoiding U.S. taxes. 

The BEAT provisions apply to certain taxpayers with average annual gross receipts of $500 million or more over a three-year period and that make deductible payments to foreign affiliates. The tax is calculated as a percentage of the taxpayer's modified taxable income, which is their regular taxable income plus certain deductions and adjustments. 

In this article, we'll take a closer look at BEAT and what companies should know about it. 

How BEAT works

BEAT is intended to prevent large multinational corporations from eroding the U.S. tax base by making deductible payments to foreign affiliates. These payments, known as base erosion payments, can include interest, royalties, and management fees, among other things. 

The BEAT calculation involves adding back to the taxpayer's taxable income certain base erosion payments made to foreign affiliates. The taxpayer's modified taxable income is then calculated, which is the taxpayer's regular taxable income plus any deductions taken for base erosion payments. 

Once modified taxable income has been determined; the BEAT rate is applied. The rate starts at 5% for the tax year 2020 and increases to 8% in 2026 and beyond. The BEAT amount is then compared to the regular tax liability for the year, and the taxpayer must pay whichever amount is higher. 

Exceptions to BEAT

Companies should be aware of several exceptions to the BEAT provisions. These include: 

Small taxpayer exception: Taxpayers with average annual gross receipts of less than $500 million over a three-year period are exempt from BEAT.

  • Banking exception: Banks and registered securities dealers are exempt from BEAT for certain payments made in connection with their trade or business.

  • De minimis exception: Base erosion payments that make up less than 3% of the taxpayer's total deductions are exempt from BEAT.

  • Qualified derivative payments exception: This exception applies to certain payments made under qualified derivative contracts.

  • Services cost method exception: This exception allows taxpayers to use the services cost method to determine the amount of deductible payments for services provided by a foreign affiliate. This method is based on the actual cost of providing the services plus a markup for overhead.

Implications for companies

For companies that meet the threshold for BEAT, there are several implications to consider. One of the most significant is the potential impact on cash flow. Because BEAT is a minimum tax, it must be paid in addition to any regular tax liability for the year. This means that companies could be required to pay significantly more in taxes than they have in the past. 

Additionally, the BEAT provisions could impact the way companies structure their operations. For example, companies may choose to restructure their supply chains or reorganize their business to reduce base erosion payments and avoid BEAT liability. 

Companies may also need to adjust their transfer pricing policies to ensure that they are in compliance with BEAT. Transfer pricing is the practice of determining the price at which goods, services, or intellectual property are transferred between related companies. BEAT could impact the amount that can be charged for these transactions, which could, in turn, impact the profitability of the affected companies.

Finally, companies should be aware of the potential for double taxation. Because BEAT is a minimum tax, it may not be creditable against foreign taxes. This means that companies could end up paying taxes on the same income in both the United States and foreign jurisdictions.


BEAT is a complex provision of the TCJA that has significant implications for large multinational companies operating in the United States. Companies that meet the threshold for BEAT should take the time to understand how the provision works and how it could impact their operations.

To prepare for BEAT, companies should consider reviewing their current supply chains and transfer pricing policies to identify potential areas of risk. They may also need to adjust their business structures to reduce base erosion payments and avoid BEAT liability.

In addition, companies should work closely with their tax advisors to understand how BEAT could impact their tax liability and cash flow. It may be necessary to adjust estimated tax payments or make other changes to ensure that the company is in compliance with BEAT requirements.

While BEAT can be a complex and challenging provision to navigate, it is an important tool for ensuring that large multinational corporations are paying their fair share of taxes in the United States. 



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