Legal Issues: IP Asset Valuation and IRS Scrutiny

4 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017 Last revised: 25 May 2017

Date Written: September 1, 2016


The structure of a large corporation can often be a very complex conflagration of parent corporations, divisions, subsidiary corporations, sister corporations, holding companies, merged entities, corporate spin-offs and the like. Tracking down all of the related relationships between these entities can be an equally complex process of deep investigation into federal, state, tax, credit and corporate records.

An increasing trend in recent years has been for some U.S. corporations to establish subsidiary operations overseas. In some cases it may be simply because it’s more effective to have a subsidiary manage their operations within the country or region. However, a growing tactic among corporations is to use overseas subsidiaries to take advantage of lower foreign tax rates. This concept – often known as tax avoidance – has been an increasing part of a company’s strategy to minimize tax obligations by moving revenue and profits into locations that have lower tax rates. Unlike tax evasion which is illegal, tax avoidance is the use of legal strategies and systems within the tax laws of both the home country, such as the U.S., and the overseas country. However, this has become a political and business controversy as a number of large companies, particularly major information industry companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple have been criticized for using these strategies to “avoid” or reduce their United States tax obligations.

Keywords: Apple, Facebook, Google, Taxation, subsidiaries, tax avoidance, foreign taxes, tax obligations

Suggested Citation

Pike, George H., Legal Issues: IP Asset Valuation and IRS Scrutiny (September 1, 2016). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-32. Available at SSRN: or

George H. Pike (Contact Author)

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-0295 (Phone)
312-503-9230 (Fax)

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