Any income or gain that we derive from instruments that hedge the risk of changes in interest rates will generally be excluded from both the numerator and the denominator for purposes of the 75% and 95% gross income test, provided that specified requirements are met, including the requirement that: the instrument is entered into during the ordinary course of our business; the instrument hedges risks associated with indebtedness issued by us that is incurred to acquire or carry "real estate assets" (as described below under "Asset Tests") or that the instrument is entered into to offset the hedging effect achieved by the original hedge upon a disposition of all or a portion of the real estate indebtedness being hedged; and the instrument is properly identified as a hedge along with the risk that it hedges within prescribed time periods. Income and gain from all other hedging transactions will not be qualifying income for either the 95% or 75% gross income test.
Under The Housing and Economic Recovery Tax Act of 2008, the Secretary of the Treasury has been given broad authority to determine whether particular items of gain or income recognized after July 30, 2008 qualify or not under the 75% and 95% gross income tests, or are to be excluded from the measure of gross income for such purposes.
At the close of each calendar quarter, we must also satisfy four tests relating to the nature of our assets.
At least 75% of the value of our total assets must be represented by some combination of "real estate assets," cash, cash items, U.S. Government securities, and, under some circumstances, temporary investments in stock or debt instruments purchased with new capital. For this purpose, real estate assets include some kinds of MBS and mortgage loans, as well as interests in real property, stock of other corporations that qualify as REITs and debt instruments of publically offered REITs (limited to 25% of the value of our total assets). Assets that do not qualify for purposes of the 75% asset test are subject to the additional asset tests described below.
The value of any one issuer's securities that we own may not exceed 5% of the value of our total assets.
We may not own more than 10% of any one issuer's outstanding securities, as measured by either voting power or value. The 5% and 10% asset tests do not apply to securities of TRSs and qualified REIT subsidiaries and the 10% asset test does not apply to "straight debt" having specified characteristics and to certain other securities.
For tax years beginning on or before December 31, 2017, the aggregate value of all securities of all TRSs that we hold may not exceed 25% of the value of our total assets. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the aggregate value of all securities of all TRSs that we hold may not exceed 20% of the value of our total assets.
We enter into sale and repurchase agreements under which we nominally sell certain of our investment securities to a counterparty and simultaneously enter into an agreement to repurchase the sold assets in exchange for a purchase price that reflects a financing charge. We believe that we would be treated for REIT asset and income test purposes as the owner of the collateral that is the subject of any such agreement notwithstanding that such agreement may transfer record ownership of the assets to the counterparty during the term of the agreement. It is possible, however, that the IRS could assert that we did not own such collateral during the term of the sale and repurchase agreement, in which case we could fail to qualify as a REIT.
As discussed above, we purchase and sell agency MBS through TBAs and may continue to do so in the future. While there is no direct authority with respect to the qualification of TBAs as real estate assets or U.S. Government securities for purposes of the 75% asset test, we treat our TBAs as qualifying assets for purposes of the REIT asset tests, based on an opinion of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP substantially to the effect that, for purposes of the REIT asset tests, our ownership of a TBA should be treated as ownership of the underlying agency MBS. Opinions of counsel are not binding on the IRS, and no assurance can be given that the IRS will not successfully challenge the conclusions set forth in such opinions. In addition, it must be emphasized that the opinion of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is based on various assumptions relating to our TBAs and is conditioned upon fact-based representations and covenants made by our management regarding our TBAs. No assurance can be given that the IRS would not assert that such assets are not qualifying assets. If the IRS were to successfully challenge the opinion of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, we could be subject to a penalty tax or we could fail to qualify as a REIT if a sufficient portion of our assets consists of TBAs.
No independent appraisals have been obtained to support our conclusions as to the value of our total assets or the value of any particular security or securities. Moreover, values of some assets, including instruments issued in securitization transactions, may not be susceptible to a precise determination, and values are subject to change in the future. Furthermore, the proper classification of an instrument as debt or equity for federal income tax purposes may be uncertain in some circumstances, which could affect the application of the REIT asset requirements. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the IRS will not contend that our interests in our subsidiaries or in the securities of other issuers will not cause a violation of the REIT asset tests.