Complying with REIT requirements may limit our flexibility or cause us to forgo otherwise attractive opportunities.
To remain qualified for taxation as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we must satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets and the amounts we distribute to our stockholders. For example, under the Code, no more than 20% of the value of the assets of a REIT may be represented by securities of one or more TRSs. Similar rules apply to other nonqualifying assets. These limitations may affect our ability to make large investments in other non-REIT qualifying operations or assets. In addition, in order to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT, we must distribute at least 90% of our REIT taxable income, determined without regard to the dividends paid deduction and excluding any net capital gains. Even if we maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT, we will be subject to U.S. federal income tax at regular corporate income tax rates for our undistributed REIT taxable income, as well as U.S. federal income tax at regular corporate income tax rates for income recognized by our TRSs and taxes in the foreign jurisdictions in which our international assets and operations are held and conducted. Because of these distribution requirements, we will likely not be able to fund future capital needs and investments from operating cash flow. As such, compliance with REIT tests may hinder our ability to make certain attractive investments, including the purchase of significant nonqualifying assets and the material expansion of non-real estate activities.
Our ability to fully deduct our interest expense may be limited, or we may be required to adjust the tax depreciation of our real property in order to maintain the full deductibility of our interest expense.
December 2017 amendments to the Code limit interest deductions for businesses, whether in corporate or passthrough form, to the sum of the taxpayer’s business interest income for the tax year and 30% of the taxpayer’s adjusted taxable income for that tax year. This limitation does not apply to an "electing real property trade or business". We have not yet determined whether we or any of our subsidiaries will elect out of the new interest expense limitation or whether each of our subsidiaries is eligible to elect out, although legislative history indicates that a real property trade or business includes a trade or business conducted by a corporation or a REIT. Depreciable real property (including specified improvements) held by electing real property trades or businesses must be depreciated for U.S. federal income tax purposes under the alternative depreciation system of the Code, which generally imposes a class life for depreciable real property as long as forty years.
As a REIT, we are limited in our ability to fund distribution payments using cash generated through our TRSs.
Our ability to receive distributions from our TRSs is limited by the rules with which we must comply to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT. In particular, at least 75% of our gross income for each taxable year as a REIT must be derived from real estate. Consequently, no more than 25% of our gross income may consist of dividend income from our TRSs and other nonqualifying types of income. Thus, our ability to receive distributions from our TRSs may be limited and may impact our ability to fund distributions to our stockholders using cash flows from our TRSs. Specifically, if our TRSs become highly profitable, we might become limited in our ability to receive net income from our TRSs in an amount required to fund distributions to our stockholders commensurate with that profitability.
In addition, a significant amount of our income and cash flows from our TRSs is generated from our international operations. In many cases, there are local withholding taxes and currency controls that may impact our ability or willingness to repatriate funds to the United States to help satisfy REIT distribution requirements.
Our extensive use of TRSs, including for certain of our international operations, may cause us to fail to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT.
Our operations include an extensive use of TRSs. The net income of our TRSs is not required to be distributed to us, and income that is not distributed to us generally is not subject to the REIT income distribution requirement. However, there may be limitations on our ability to accumulate earnings in our TRSs and the accumulation or reinvestment of significant earnings in our TRSs could result in adverse tax treatment. In particular, if the accumulation of cash in our TRSs causes (1) the fair market value of our securities in our TRSs to exceed 20% of the fair market value of our assets or (2) the fair market value of our securities in our TRSs and other nonqualifying assets to exceed 25% of the fair market value of our assets, then we will fail to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT. Further, a substantial portion of our TRSs are overseas, and a material change in foreign currency rates could also negatively impact our ability to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT.
December 2017 amendments to the Code have imposed limitations on the ability of our TRSs to utilize specified income tax deductions, including limits on the use of net operating losses and limits on the deductibility of interest expense. Further, these amendments made substantial changes to the taxation of international income. Some of these changes did not contemplate unintended consequences of such reforms on REITs with global operations, and we may be required to recognize income on account of the activities of our foreign TRSs that may not be treated as qualifying income for purposes of the REIT gross income tests that we are required to satisfy.