Understanding Taxation of Foreign Business Profits in the U.S.: Insights from the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty

Understanding Taxation of Foreign Business Profits in the U.S.: Insights from the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty

Suppose ALMA, a foreign national residing in Denmark, sells Fidget Spinners to U.S. customers through Alex, a full-time sales representative in Denver. During the year, ALMA’s U.S. profit attributable to Alex amounts to $100,000.


  • What are the tax implications for ALMA’s $100,000 profit if Alex frequently concludes sales for ALMA in the U.S.?

    1. Under what circumstances does Article 7(1) of the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty allow the U.S. to tax this profit?
  • If Alex only takes orders and sends them to ALMA for approval, does this activity create a U.S. Permanent Establishment for ALMA?

    1. How does this affect the taxation of the $100,000 profit in the U.S.?
  • What is the definition of a “dependent agent” according to the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC)?

    1. How does this classification impact ALMA’s tax obligations in the U.S.?
  • Can ALMA’s $100,000 profit escape U.S. taxation if Alex is not considered a dependent agent?

    1. What are the criteria for determining if a sales representative’s activities constitute a Permanent Establishment?
  • Where can I find the specific regulations in the Internal Revenue Code and U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty that address these scenarios?

    1. Which sections or articles should I refer to for detailed information?

Experts Answer:

1. Taxation of ALMA’s $100,000 Profit if Alex Frequently Concludes Sales in the U.S.

Scenario: If Alex frequently concludes sales for ALMA in the U.S., he is considered a “dependent agent” under the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty.

Tax Implications: Article 7(1) of the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty allows the U.S. to tax ALMA’s business profits if those profits are attributable to a permanent establishment in the U.S. Since Alex, a dependent agent, is frequently concluding sales, this creates a permanent establishment for ALMA in the U.S. Thus, the U.S. can tax the $100,000 profit attributable to Alex’s activities.

Example: ALMA, through Alex’s regular sales activities in Denver, earns $100,000. This income is subject to U.S. taxation because Alex’s actions establish a U.S. permanent establishment.

2. Alex Taking Orders and Sending Them for Approval

Scenario: If Alex only takes orders and sends them to ALMA for approval without concluding sales himself, the situation changes.

Tax Implications: In this case, Alex’s activities do not create a U.S. permanent establishment for ALMA. Consequently, the $100,000 profit earned by ALMA through orders taken by Alex but approved in Denmark escapes U.S. taxation.

Example: Alex acts as an intermediary, collecting orders and forwarding them to ALMA in Denmark for approval. The $100,000 profit from these sales is not taxable in the U.S. as there is no permanent establishment.

3. Definition of a “Dependent Agent”

U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty & IRC: A dependent agent is someone who habitually exercises the authority to conclude contracts on behalf of a foreign enterprise. According to the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty and IRC, if the agent’s activities lead to the establishment of a permanent establishment, the profits attributable to that agent are taxable in the U.S.

Impact on Tax Obligations: If Alex is a dependent agent, ALMA’s profit from his activities is subject to U.S. tax. If Alex does not meet the criteria of a dependent agent, ALMA might avoid U.S. taxation on those profits.

Example: Alex negotiates and concludes contracts regularly for ALMA, qualifying him as a dependent agent. This leads to ALMA’s profits being taxable in the U.S.

4. Escaping U.S. Taxation Without a Dependent Agent

Criteria for Permanent Establishment: To avoid U.S. taxation, ALMA must ensure that Alex’s activities do not constitute those of a dependent agent or establish a permanent establishment. The key criteria include:

  • The agent must not habitually conclude contracts.
  • The agent’s role should be limited to preparatory or auxiliary activities.

Example: If Alex merely promotes the products and refers customers to ALMA without concluding sales, he does not create a permanent establishment, and ALMA’s $100,000 profit would not be taxable in the U.S.

5. Relevant Regulations and Articles

Internal Revenue Code & U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty: For detailed information, refer to the following sections and articles:

  • IRC Sections: 864(c), 861-8, 894
  • U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty Articles: Article 5 (Permanent Establishment), Article 7 (Business Profits)

Where to Find More Information: To explore these regulations and get further clarification, consulting the specific articles in the U.S.-Denmark Tax Treaty and relevant sections in the IRC is essential.

Call to Action: For personalized advice and a thorough analysis of your specific situation, consider consulting with a CPA. Click the link below to book an appointment with O&G Tax and Accounting Services.