Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC): Rules & Concept Explained

The term CFC stands for a controlled foreign corporation, which is a registered business entity that holds business in a separate country or jurisdiction than in the firm owner’s residency.


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    controlled foreign corporation

    Overview: Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC)

    The term CFC stands for a controlled foreign corporation. It is a registered business entity that holds business in a separate country or jurisdiction than in the firm owner’s residency. When talking about the company in USA, a controlled foreign corporation is the one in which the stakeholders of the U.S. possess more than half of the complete joint voting right of the total voting stock or the complete firm’s stock value.

    The CFC laws operate with tax treaties to handle how the taxpaying individuals proclaim their foreign revenues. A CFC is beneficial for firms when the set-up price of corporations, partnerships, or foreign branches in a different nation is less even after all the tax consequences. Another situation where a CFC is beneficial is when global exposure happens. It lets the business expand.

    More on CFC - Controlled Foreign Corporation

    The framework of controlled foreign corporations was developed to save the firm from tax evasion. The tax evasion was built by creating offshore firms in places with little or zero tax, like the Cayman Islands or Bermuda. Every nation possesses its own CFC provisions. But they all tend to be similar when it comes to foreign businesses and their tax procedure.

    That is why having a firm that’s termed as independent will save it from CFC provisions. Several nations that agree with the CFC guidelines since 2015 are, the U.K., the U.S., Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Australia, and Brazil.

    Controlled Foreign Corporation Rules

    Turning into an offshore company is undoubtedly the best way to grow your firm around the globe and also the best way to make the best of your hard-earned revenue. Converting to an offshore firm is a common process nowadays but it can be pretty complex. Why? As it is a method that requires time to plan and there are several international provisions that need to be implemented. Amongst such international provisions come CFC rules. Keep reading along to understand the concept, aim, application, and mechanism of the CFC rules.

    Basic Concept of CFC Rules

    They are measures designed to prohibit multinational firms from moving profits and evading taxes in their native nations. CFC regulations govern how often a multinational subsidiary’s revenues are taxed locally in the native nation where the primary business is based.

    A lot of countries enforcing CFC regulations are industrialized, high-tax nations. China, Brazil, Germany, France, Finland, Hungary Greece, Italy, Iceland, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, Norway, Russia, Spain, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden are among the most common instances of nations with severe CFC regulations.

    On the other side, several countries have yet to establish CFC regulations. Typically, they are business-friendly governments. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you take out time and research these locations because they may have different regulations regarding international income taxation. It is also anticipated that more European countries would implement CFC regulations in the coming years.

    Aim of CFC Rules

    Before delving into how controlled foreign corporations’ rules function, you should first adapt to changes in which they are generated.

    As globalization progressed, an increasing number of enterprises decided to implement in numerous jurisdictions in order to maximize earnings rather than only in their native country. Establishing subsidiary firms in different foreign nations is among the most prevalent methods. As a result, many groupings of businesses are created around the world, and they are susceptible to tax obligations in many countries.

    Many foreign corporations have sought to create branches in various tax shelters, which are described as countries with exceptionally low or no taxation to escape taxation in their native countries. The strategy here is to discover a means to shift revenues to affiliates and keep the revenues there. This problem has created a considerable need in several native nations for a remedy to preserve the tax revenue. That’s when the CFC Rules kick in.


    Understanding the Application of CFC Rules

    The CFC rules were first taken up by the USA. The United States of America applied and approached the CFC rules in the 1960s. To gain a clearer view of how the CFC rules are implied, we will take the example of the U.S., and explain how these rules were applied there.

    Generally, any international firm is termed as a controlled foreign corporation if more than half of its value or voting power is in the hands of the US stakeholders. As per the IRS, a stakeholder in the US is a citizen of the US (can also be a firm or any other business entity) who possesses a minimum of 10% of the international firm’s voting power. Under the CFC rules, all the ownership and control matters amongst the international firms and the US stakeholders are handled.

    If an international firm is termed as a controlled foreign corporation, the revenue of such firm comes into the Subpart F income category and will get taxed locally in the United States, even when the wage hasn’t been allocated.

    All in all, the Subpart F wage incorporates these kinds of income:

    • Insurance corporations
    • International personal holding firm wage – It incorporates interest, annuities, dividends, and rent royalties
    • International base firm sales wage – This is the wage that arises through the purchase or sale of goods with a known individual, given that the goods are created and utilized outside of the controlled foreign corporation’s established location.
    • International base firm services wage – Is the wage that arises from the service performance for a related individual or on his/her behalf.
    • International base firm oil-based wage
    • Different kinds of wages that pertain to foreign boycott provisions and different other illegal payments

    A local CFC individual should incorporate his share of a controlled foreign corporation’s taxable wage. The incorporated wage is then pertained to set tax values in the United States.

    CFC Rules: Mechanism

    The first thing you should know is that controlled foreign corporation rules varies depending on where you live. Nevertheless, there still is a fundamental framework of such standards in place to govern how an international subsidiary firm’s revenue is taxed in a native nation (where the primary firm is situated). In general, it is divided into three levels:

    Level One: Identify a foreign corporation that is under the control of another country (CFC)

    The link between a specific domestic corporation (in the native nation) and its international subsidiary will get examined first under CFC regulations (in different jurisdictions). The 1st stage is to assess whether or not the company is a CFC of the local entity.

    Various countries have different standards in place to assess this. The typical way is to establish a share-holding % criterion. Most European countries, for instance, will consider an international subsidiary to be a CFC if a local company owns more than half of the company’s shares.

    Level 2: Assess the relevance of CFC regulations.

    There are 2 main approaches to this. The 1st one will be determined by the difference in taxation between the two territories. For example, if an overseas jurisdiction imposes a small tax value on a controlled foreign corporation than the native country, controlled foreign corporation regulations will prevail.

    The next method is to rely upon the determination of the sorts of income received by a controlled foreign corporation. Income is typically categorized into two categories: active and passive. Active wage, in more precise terms, is the money produced by conventional manufacturing operations. Conversely, passive revenue is defined as revenue generated by financial operations (or non-traditional producing operations) like dividends, interest, royalty income, and rental income. Usually, controlled foreign corporation laws are applied to tax a controlled foreign corporation if the majority of its raised income is classified as passive.

    The second option is to use a blacklist. If an overseas subsidiary is classified as a controlled foreign corporation and is founded in a country on the blacklisted list, CFC restrictions will take effect instantly. Tax havens are typically included on the blacklist. Examples are, Seychelles and Panama.

    Level Three: Execute taxation

    After establishing that an international subsidiary is a controlled foreign corporation and that its revenue is liable to local tax in a particular native country, the controlled foreign corporation regulations will determine how much of the firm’s revenue will be taxable internally. The primary business must then submit the tax levied in the native nation on the revenue of its overseas subsidiary, irrespective of whether the primary firm has collected the paid money from the corporation.

    CFC Rule Exclusions

    Almost every country has exemptions from CFC regulations. Many countries maintain a whitelist of territories. When an overseas subsidiary is formed in a country on the whitelist, controlled foreign corporation rules no longer apply. European nations typically comprise other European nations on their whitelists, primarily through formal treaties and agreements.



    Now that we have reached the end of this blog, we hope that we aim to help you understand what is controlled by a foreign corporation, is and what are its rules. Contact ODINT Consulting for all your business needs today!


    The three tiers or levels of the CFC rules mechanism are as follows:

    • Determine a multinational business under the hold of another nation
    • Evaluate the need for CFC rules
    • Execute taxation

    It is a business unit that is established and operates in a province or nation other than the residence of the main owners.

    The main aim of CFC rules is to safeguard the diversion of country revenues to low taxable nations. The CFC laws are anti-avoidance guidelines.