For more than 20 years advisers to US beneficiaries of foreign non-grantor trusts have struggled with the US passive foreign investment corporation rules, which attribute stock owned by a non-grantor trust to its beneficial owners. The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel recently made recommendations to the US Treasury on how regulations could be drafted to avoid tax on phantom income for US beneficiaries.
The Internal Revenue Service has proposed a revenue ruling on private trust companies, addressing whether family ownership and participation in the governance of a trust company serving as trustee of family trusts would trigger adverse transfer and income tax consequences. The proposed ruling represents a step towards providing practical rules on family decision making over family trusts without undue tax risk.
The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act 2005 has been signed into law. The act does not change the estate tax law; nor does it introduce an exit tax on expatriates - two topics being hotly debated in Washington. Instead, it extends the reduced capital gains tax rate which benefits US beneficiaries of foreign trusts and modifies the housing expense calculation for US citizens living abroad.
The trust law of the various US states has traditionally required trustees to administer trust property solely in the best interests of the beneficiaries, to preserve the property and make it productive. The Uniform Trust Code, enacted in whole or in part by 15 states, modernizes the traditional trust law by providing the settlor latitude to shape the relationship between the trust property and beneficiaries.
The laws of several US states enable a settlor to restrict disclosure to beneficiaries, adapting the trust form to offer a choice reflecting contemporary concerns about the confidentiality and management of wealth transfers. Following the amendment of the model Uniform Trust Code to reflect that states may choose to allow so-called 'quiet trusts', the trend towards settlor freedom is likely to continue.
Including: Gift Tax; Estate Tax; Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax; Temporary Repeal of Estate and GST Tax in 2010; Income Tax; Income Tax Residency and Transfer Tax Domicile; Anti-avoidance Rules; Expatriation.
The Taxpayer Relief Act 1997 and the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act 2001 mandated changes to US transfer taxes over a period of years. Tax professionals and trustees must therefore confirm rates and exemption amounts annually. Certain annual exclusion amounts are also indexed for inflation and must be confirmed each year to ensure maximum advantage for the client.
Non-resident aliens intending to immigrate to the United States should carefully consider the US tax laws and available planning opportunities, especially where they have funded an offshore trust. The complexity and breadth of these rules generally result in the taxation of income earned in the offshore trust to the US-resident settlor, but pre-residency tax planning may ameliorate this result.
New legislation accelerates the lower income tax rates that were scheduled to appear in 2006 under the 2001 tax act. Tax professionals and trustees must consider the impact of these lower rates on offshore trusts benefiting families whose members include US citizens or residents.
April 15 marks the filing due date not only for US income tax returns, but also for the reporting of foreign gifts, distributions from foreign trusts and income earned in foreign grantor trusts. US citizens, resident aliens and domestic partnerships, corporations, estates and trusts which fail to file by this deadline will incur financial penalties.
Including: Gift Tax; Estate Tax; Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax; Income Tax; Income Tax Residency and Transfer Tax Domicile; Expatriation.