Advising Domestic Business Ventures: A Trade or Business for Purposes of Section 199A

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Jason B. Freeman

Jason B. Freeman

Managing Member


Mr. Freeman is the founding member of Freeman Law, PLLC. He is a dual-credentialed attorney-CPA, author, law professor, and trial attorney.

Mr. Freeman has been named by Chambers & Partners as among the leading tax and litigation attorneys in the United States and to U.S. News and World Report’s Best Lawyers in America list. He is a former recipient of the American Bar Association’s “On the Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers” in America award. Mr. Freeman was named the “Leading Tax Controversy Litigation Attorney of the Year” for the State of Texas for 2019 and 2020 by AI.

Mr. Freeman has been recognized multiple times by D Magazine, a D Magazine Partner service, as one of the Best Lawyers in Dallas, and as a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters service. He has previously been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Top 100 Up-And-Coming Attorney in Texas.

Mr. Freeman currently serves as the chairman of the Texas Society of CPAs (TXCPA). He is a former chairman of the Dallas Society of CPAs (TXCPA-Dallas). Mr. Freeman also served multiple terms as the President of the North Texas chapter of the American Academy of Attorney-CPAs. He has been previously recognized as the Young CPA of the Year in the State of Texas (an award given to only one CPA in the state of Texas under 40).

What is Section 199A?

Freeman Law advises domestic and international ventures with corporate and tax compliance. Clients with flow-through entity structures may need to consider the impact of section 199A. Planning for section 199A may significantly impact a client’s bottom line and investor returns. This resource provides additional background on the concept of a trade or business for section 199A purposes.

Section 199A was enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts of 2017, P.L. 115-97 (the “TCJA”). Its rules are currently effective for tax years beginning after 2017 and before 2026.

Proposed Purposes of Section 199A

Proposed Regulations at §1.199A-1(b) define the phrase trade or business for purposes of section 199A. Under that proposed regulation, the IRS generally determined that the phrase trade or business should take on the meaning of that phrase that has been developed under section 162(a) of the Code. Section 162(a) lends the benefits of a large body of existing case law and administrative guidance interpreting the phrase across a wide variety of industries.

Under Section 162(a), the question of whether an activity rises to the level of a trade or business is based on facts and circumstances. Generally, the phrase connotes an activity conducted with “continuity and regularity” and with the primary purpose of earning income or making a profit. Comm’r v. Groetzinger, 480 U.S. 23, 35 (1987). It has generally not encompassed mere investment activities or rental activities that do not rise to the level of a trade or business.

The proposed regulations, however, specifically extend the definition of trade or business beyond the scope of Section 162 with respect to the rental or licensing of tangible or intangible property to a related trade or business. Under the proposed regulations, such rental and licensing activities are treated as a trade or business if the rental or licensing and the other trade or business are “commonly controlled” within the meaning of proposed regulation §1.199A-4(b)(1)(i). The Service noted that taxpayers often segregate rental activities from operating businesses for legal and other non-tax reasons.

A taxpayer can have more than one trade or business for purposes of section 162—and thus for purposes of Section 199A. The Treasury’s proposed regulations thus address the concept of aggregation. Allowing taxpayers to aggregate trades or businesses provide a means of combining their trades or businesses for purposes of applying the W-2 wage and UBIA of qualified property limitations, thus potentially maximizing the deduction under section 199A.


For more on section 199A, see prior Insights, such as:


Business Tax Planning Lawyer

Need assistance in managing the business planning processes? Freeman Law advises clients with corporate and other entity formations and reorganizations. Restructuring entities—through conversions, mergers, and liquidations—can involve particularly complex tax and regulatory considerations. Freeman Law provides experienced tax and business counsel, helping our clients achieve their organizational goals in a tax-efficient manner. Schedule a consultation or call (214) 984-3000 to discuss your corporate structuring or business and tax planning concerns.