Compensation and Equity

IRS Reiterates Stance on Marijuana Business Deductions Under Section 280E

The IRS Stance on Marijuana Business Deductions

The IRS Stance on Marijuana Business Deductions

Understanding IRS Guidelines

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recently reaffirmed its position on the inability of marijuana companies to claim federal tax deductions for business expenses. According to the IRS, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This classification means that under Section 280E of the tax code, businesses involved in the trafficking of controlled substances—including marijuana—are disallowed from claiming typical business deductions or credits.

Despite the legalization of marijuana in multiple states, this federal law has not changed. Consequently, Section 280E continues to affect cannabis businesses, preventing them from accessing the same federal tax breaks that other legal businesses enjoy. This situation underscores the importance of federal versus state law discrepancies, and how they affect the tax responsibilities of marijuana businesses.

Refund Claims and Potential Rescheduling

The IRS has made further statements cautioning marijuana businesses against filing amended returns to claim refunds related to Section 280E. Any such claims are deemed invalid until a final rule on the rescheduling of marijuana is published. Notably, Trulieve, a prominent cannabis retailer, has filed for over $100 million in tax refunds. Trulieve argues that its operations, based on intrastate commerce, should exempt them from Section 280E.

While Trulieve’s position might be innovative, it doesn’t necessarily align with current Supreme Court rulings, though it has sparked similar refund claims from other cannabis businesses. The recent IRS statements are seen as a direct response to these actions, depicting a clear warning shot to companies challenging Section 280E. This stance by the IRS remains firm until the classification of marijuana undergoes federal rescheduling.

There is, however, a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The Biden administration has called for reclassifying marijuana to a less restrictive category. Unfortunately, the IRS has reiterated that the existing laws will stand firm until there is an official federal rule change. In the meantime, several states are striving to provide state-level tax relief to marijuana businesses affected by the IRS’s stringent 280E statute.

Adding to this complex scenario, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has reintroduced a bill in Congress aimed at amending the IRS code. This bill proposes to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to benefit from federal tax deductions available to other industries. Should this bill pass, it would mark a significant turning point in the financial landscape of cannabis businesses operating legally under state law.

Ultimately, the IRS’s recent clarifications and activities serve as a reminder of the complex interplay between federal and state laws governing marijuana. Until there is a definitive change in federal law, marijuana businesses will continue to face these particular tax challenges, despite the changing legal landscape at the state level.