We have entered into transactions involving CMO trusts, which are VIEs. We will consolidate a CMO trust if we are the CMO trust's primary beneficiary; that is, if we have a variable interest that provides us with a controlling financial interest in the CMO trust. An entity is deemed to have a controlling financial interest if the entity has the power to direct the activities of a VIE that most significantly impact the VIE's economic performance and the obligation to absorb losses of or right to receive benefits from the VIE that could potentially be significant to the VIE. As part of the qualitative assessment in determining if we have a controlling financial interest, we evaluate whether we control the selection of financial assets transferred to the CMO trust. For each of our consolidated CMO trusts we controlled the selection of the agency MBS transferred from our investment portfolio to an investment bank in exchange for cash proceeds and at the same time entered into a commitment with the investment bank to purchase to-be-issued securities collateralized by the agency MBS transferred, which resulted in our consolidation of the CMO trusts.
Agency MBS transferred to consolidated VIEs are reported on our consolidated balance sheets in agency securities transferred to consolidated VIEs, at fair value and can only be used to settle the obligations of each respective VIE.
We report debt issued in connection with the CMO trusts on our consolidated balance sheets in debt of consolidated VIEs, at fair value, which represents tranches within the trusts sold to third-parties and excludes tranches acquired by us that eliminate upon consolidation. The third-party beneficial interest holders in the VIEs have no recourse against our general credit. We elected the option to account for the consolidated debt at fair value, with changes in fair value reflected in earnings during the period in which they occur, because we believe this election more appropriately reflects our financial position as both the consolidated assets and consolidated debt are presented in a consistent manner on our consolidated balance sheets. We estimate the fair value of the consolidated debt based on a market approach using "Level 2" inputs from third-party pricing services and dealer quotes.
We elected to be taxed as a REIT under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and the corresponding provisions of state law, commencing with our initial tax year ended December 31, 2008. In order to qualify as a REIT, we must annually distribute, in a timely manner to our stockholders, at least 90% of our taxable ordinary income. A REIT is not subject to tax on its earnings to the extent that it distributes its annual taxable income to its stockholders and as long as certain asset, income and stock ownership tests are met. We operate in a manner that will allow us to be taxed as a REIT. As permitted by the Internal Revenue Code, a REIT can designate dividends paid in the subsequent year as dividends of the current year if those dividends are both declared by the extended due date of the REIT's federal income tax return and paid to stockholders by the last day of the subsequent year.
As a REIT, if we fail to distribute in any calendar year at least the sum of (i) 85% of our ordinary income for such year, (ii) 95% of our capital gain net income for such year and (iii) any undistributed taxable income from the prior year, we are subject to a non-deductible 4% excise tax on the excess of such required distribution over the sum of (a) the amounts actually distributed and, if applicable, (b) the amounts of income we retained and on which we have paid corporate income tax. Dividends declared by December 31 and paid by January 31 are treated as having been a distribution of our taxable income for the prior tax year.
We and our domestic subsidiary, American Capital Agency TRS, LLC, have made a joint election to treat our subsidiary as a taxable REIT subsidiary. As such, American Capital Agency TRS, LLC, is subject to federal and state income tax.
We evaluate uncertain income tax positions, if any, in accordance with ASC Topic 740, Income Taxes ("ASC 740"). To the extent we incur interest and/or penalties in connection with our tax obligations, such amounts shall be classified as income tax expense on our consolidated statements of operations.
Certain prior period amounts in the consolidated financial statements have been reclassified to conform to the current period presentation.