Bio

Viva Hammer emigrated to New York two days after finishing final law school exams at the University of Sydney in Australia.  She graduated with degrees in economics and law (First Class Honours).

She studied for the New York Bar and began practicing US international tax at a Big Four public accounting firm.  She also joined or started non-profits to her heart’s content.

Taking a move into a move into the taxation of derivatives and capital markets transactions, she saw more insides of airplanes and hotels.

After 10 years in New York, Viva was invited to join the Office of Tax Policy at the US Treasury Department, the only Australian to have done so.  While there she wrote law and developed policy in the taxation of financial institutions and products.  After six years at Treasury, Viva became partner at a Washington DC firm.

Viva is now at the Joint Committee on Taxation, helping Congress develop law and policy in the international tax derivatives, and consumption tax areas.

 

Significant Post-Treasury Legislative/Regulatory Accomplishments

  • Viva Hammer represented a large energy client in obtaining Announcement 2009-65, relaxing the standards for partnerships to jointly engage in alternative energy projects and effectively utilize section 45 credits for the projects, see discussion in “Alternative Energy Gets a Second Wind,” Tax Notes, Nov. 22, 2010
  • Viva Hammer represented a large manufacturing client in obtaining a reprieve from the COD and AHYDO rules, obtaining change to the AHYDO law in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, see discussion in “Taxation of High-Yield Debt – Beware the End of the Reprieve,” Tax Notes, Vol. 124, No. 11, Sept. 14, 2009
  • Viva Hammer represented a large financial client in obtaining the only tax provision in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform, which amended section 1256, see discussion in “The Taxation of Dodd-Frank,” Tax Notes, July 11 and 25, 2011
  • Viva Hammer represented a large financial client in obtaining guidance on UBIT issues with respect to credit default swaps

 

Responsibilities and Achievements while at the Department of the Treasury

 

Legislation

 

Tax legislation with financial product significance 2000-2006.  Specific provisions in specific Tax Acts or proposed legislation can be provided.

  • Section 1256
  • Section 1221
  • Section 1092
  • Section 1032
  • Section 108
  • Section 163

 

Regulations

 

I had significant drafting and oversight responsibility on the following regulations projects:

 

  • Contingent Notional Principal Contracts
  • Section 199 implications for hedging transactions
  • Widely Held Fixed Investment Trusts
  • 468B on treatment of escrow and settlement funds created in like-kind exchanges, by court order, etc., including consideration of guidance under section 7871
  • Treatment of Hedging Transactions under section 1221
  • International implications of Hedging Transactions
  • Book-Tax Conformity Safeharbor Regulations
  • Section 265 relating to debt connected with tax-exempt securities: Proposed Consolidated Return Rules for Disallowance of Interest Expense Deductions, Application of Sections 265(a)(2) and 246A in Multi-Party Financing Arrangements
  • Straddle treatment of Qualified Covered Calls under section 1092
  • Section 1259 regarding collar transactions and similar risk-reducing transactions
  • Partnership Option Transactions (Non-Compensatory)
  • Deductibility of interest on student loans

 

Tax Reform

 

Responsible for financial institution and service implications of Treasury’s initiative on Tax Reform and to support the Tax Reform Panel

 

Revenue Rulings and other published guidance

 

  • Rul. 2007-32, 2007-1 C.B. 1278, and Rev. Proc. 2007-33, 2007-1 C.B. 1289 regarding the position of the IRS on the tax treatment of interest income on non-performing loans.  Treasury representative for the IRS Banking taskforce addressing the accrual of interest on nonperforming loans.
  • Revenue Rulings addressing the taxation of various credit card fees, such as annual fees, late fees, cash-advance fees and ATM surcharge fees;
  • Rev. Rul. 2004–52; Credit card annual fees. This ruling holds that credit card annual fees are not interest for federal income tax purposes.
  • Rev. Proc. 2004-33, describes conditions under which the Commissioner will allow a taxpayer to treat its income from credit card late fees as interest income on a pool of credit card loans.
  • Rev. Rul. 2005-47 – a credit card issuer treats third-party ATM surcharge fees incurred by its cardholders as additional amounts loaned to those cardholders.
  • Rev. Proc. 2004–32 allows credit card issuers described in Rev. Rul. 2004–52, 2004–22 I.R.B. 973 to account for annual fee income using the Ratable Inclusion Method for Credit card Annual Fees
  • Rev. Rul. 2007-1 – Credit card nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee
  • Primary draftsperson on Notice 2001-44, proposed regulations governing NPCs and characterization of payments under credit derivatives;
  • Rev. Rul. 2003-97, 2003-34 IRB 380 on FELINE PRIDES, developing policy on: debt/equity characterization, separation of traded unit consisting of debt and a forward contract, Section 163(l);
  • Rev. Rul. 2003-7, ruling that the receipt of cash on a pledge of shares did not constitute a constructive sale of those shares if the taxpayer who pledged them retained the right to substitute collateral and is not economically compelled to deliver the pledged shares in a STRYPES contract (retail version of a DECS).
  • Revenue Ruling 2002-31 and Notice 2002-36 regarding the taxation of Contingent Convertible debt instruments;
  • Notice 2002-35 – transactions involving the use of a notional principal contract to claim current deductions for periodic payments made by a taxpayer while disregarding the accrual of a right to receive offsetting payments in the future
  • Notice 2006-16, Tax Avoidance Using Notional Principal Contract, Impact on Required Disclosures.
  • Notice 2003-81 – Major/Minor Tax Avoidance Using Offsetting Foreign currency Option Contracts; Offsetting Foreign Currency Option Contracts (transactions in which a taxpayer claims a loss upon the assignment of a section 1256 contract to a charity but fails to report the recognition of gain when the taxpayer’s obligation under an offsetting non-section 1256 contract terminates)