The Applicable Federal Rate (AFR) is a set of interest rates published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States. These rates are used to determine the minimum interest that should be charged on certain types of loans to avoid tax consequences. The AFR is particularly relevant in situations involving loans between family members or other related parties, where charging little or no interest might be considered a disguised gift for tax purposes.

There are three main categories of AFR, each with its own set of rates:

1. **Short-Term AFR:**
– Applicable to loans with terms of three years or less.

2. **Mid-Term AFR:**
– Applicable to loans with terms between three and nine years.

3. **Long-Term AFR:**
– Applicable to loans with terms exceeding nine years.

Each category includes a series of rates, including the “blended annual rate” (used for demand loans and loans with varying amounts during the year), the “fixed rate,” and the “adjusted federal long-term rate.”

The AFR is used as a benchmark to ensure that loans between related parties, especially family members, are structured with an appropriate interest rate. If the actual interest charged on a loan is below the AFR, the IRS may impute additional interest, treating the difference as a gift for tax purposes.

The AFR is influenced by current market interest rates, and the IRS updates it monthly. The rates are published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB), and they are based on the average market yields of U.S. Treasury securities with maturities similar to the terms of the loans.

In addition to its application in intra-family loans, the AFR is also relevant for various other transactions, such as split-interest charitable gifts, installment sales, and certain estate planning strategies.

It’s important for individuals involved in related-party transactions or other situations where interest rates are a factor to be aware of the applicable AFR rates at the time of the transaction. This helps ensure compliance with tax regulations and minimizes the risk of adverse tax consequences associated with below-market interest rates on loans. Consulting with a tax professional or financial advisor is advisable for specific guidance on AFR and its implications for individual circumstances.