The PFIC regime was not introduced until 1986. Prior to 1986, U.S. taxation of foreign corporations was strictly tied to control of the corporation held by U.S. persons. This allowed not only the foreign mutual fund to avoid U.S. taxation, but also U.S. persons who invested in the fund. How so?
For starters, the fund itself avoided U.S. taxation because it was a foreign corporation that derived only foreign-source income. The fund was able to avoid the taint of being classified as a controlled foreign corporation, or “CFC” because it was owned by a large number of U.S. and foreign investors, each of whom owned a relatively small percentage.
U.S. investors avoided U.S. taxation in two primary ways. First, the fund paid no dividends. Read more