Tax-Free Reorganizations: The Evolution and Revolution of Triangular Mergers

Hoffer, Stephanie, Oesterle, Dale A. | March 1, 2014

Tax laws applicable to triangular mergers lack neutrality, are complex, and overlap substantially with other tax-preferred forms of corporate acquisition. Their current status is a result of both path dependency and Congress’s attempt to create consistency within a framework founded upon inconsistent conceptualizations of the corporation. This Article highlights problems arising under current rules, including a notable lack of tax neutrality among merger forms. It proposes pragmatic revisions made within the constraint of double taxation of corporate profits and then revisits the question through a more normative framework. The Article concludes that the tax treatment of target shareholders and the target corporation in corporate acquisitions should be disaggregated. Finally, it observes that both pragmatic and normative solutions proposed within the reorganization statute are unsatisfying in light of larger structural problems in the Internal Revenue Code.