Estate planning attorneys and CPAs all keep an eye on letter rulings to see if IRS decisions have any bearing on their own client’s situations. In this case, a taxpayer is setting up a revocable trust and wants to use a Charitable Lead Annuity Trust known as a CLAT.
A recently posted letter ruling from the IRS addresses the use of a CLAT used in estate planning.
A CLAT letter ruling could be of interest to those who are using life insurance, annuities or other instruments in estate planning.
Think Advisor’s recent article, “IRS Posts Charitable Lead Annuity Trust Letter Ruling,” explains that if the taxpayer passes away prior to the taxpayer’s spouse, the trust is supposed to pay specified debts and expenses, then distribute the trust assets to other individuals and trusts.
If the spouse dies first, the trust is supposed to pay specified expenses and make specified distributions of the assets to individuals and trusts. The trust is then supposed to push the remaining assets into a CLAT. The CLAT is then to pay a charity an annuity amount, that is equal to 5% of the fair market value of the initial trust estate.
A CLAT is designed to have a benefit stream that lasts a specified number of years.
Leslie Finlow, a senior technician reviewer at the IRS Office of Associate Chief Counsel for passthroughs and special industries, said in the letter ruling that the IRS will treat the CLAT as having a benefits payment term of a specified term.
While the term will depend on the amount of assets that winds up in the CLAT, determining the term will be possible, when the trust ends up with its share of the estate, she noted.
If the taxpayer, the spouse, and the trust meet a number of conditions, the taxpayer’s estate should be able to take a tax deduction for the present value of the annuity payments from the CLAT, Finlow explained.
“To the extent any estate, succession, legacy, or inheritance taxes are paid from the residue prior to funding the CLAT pursuant to the terms of revocable trust or by the law of the jurisdiction under which the estate is administered, the amount of the charitable deduction in either estate is determined using the actual amount passing to the CLAT after payment of such taxes,” Finlow writes.
There’s an important distinction to be aware of. A letter ruling provides the view of only one IRS official. There is also something known as a PLR, a Private Letter Ruling, which is issued to an individual taxpayer and applies current tax laws to that individual situation.
Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney in Houston, if you want to use a CLAT in your estate plan.
Reference: Think Advisor (August 19, 2019) “IRS Posts Charitable Lead Annuity Trust Letter Ruling”