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Capital Gains Tax and Trusts

Web Admin - Thursday, June 25, 2015

capital gains tax, Illinois estate planning lawyerToday, increasing numbers of individuals are turning to trusts as opposed to wills for their estate planning. Trusts are often advantageous over wills because they allow for greater flexibility and control over assets. It is important to know the impact of capital gains tax on the assets that fund a trust.

Step-up in Basis

Capital assets include items like a house, stocks or bonds, and machinery. When one of these items is sold, the difference in the sale price and the original purchase price is considered a capital gain or loss. If an item is sold and a profit is realized, the capital gain is taxed.

If an individual forms a grantor-type trust, all appreciated assets that are transferred into the trust (items like real estate or a stock portfolio) are eligible to receive a step-up in basis upon the death of the grantor. Basis is the cost of the property or asset. A step-up in basis is a readjustment of the value of an asset to its current value for tax purposes upon inheritance of the asset. This is important because it minimizes the beneficiary’s capital gains taxes going forward.

For example, let’s say a grantor purchased an asset for $50 and transferred it to a trust. The grantor’s basis is $50, meaning if the asset were to be sold, the difference between $50 and the sale price would be the amount subject to the capital gains tax. Now, let’s say that at the time of the grantor’s death, the value of the asset is $100. The beneficiary receives a step-up in basis, meaning his or her basis is $100, not the $50 that the grantor originally paid. This is important because if the beneficiary decides to immediately sell the asset for $100, she will not be subject to any tax. Further, any sale in the future after the asset increases in value will be subject to tax on the difference between the sale price and $100, as opposed to $50 if a step-up in basis was not available.

An important consideration is when the step-up in basis is applied. For example, how is the step-up in basis determined if a married couple each owns half of an asset through the use of separate trusts and they die at different points in time? If the deceased spouse’s share is transferred to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse will receive a step-up in basis. When the surviving spouse dies and the trust is inherited by the beneficiaries, they will also receive a step-up in basis.

Finally, it is important to be aware of the Medicare tax on “unearned” net investment income. This imposes a 3.8 percent tax on the net investment income, which includes capital gains, of joint filers who have a modified adjusted gross income of greater than $250,000 or single filers with an adjusted gross income of greater than $200,000.

Help Forming Your Trust

If you would like more information about forming a trust, you should reach out to an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney today. Our firm proudly represents individuals throughout the northwest suburbs, including areas such as Crystal Lake, Inverness, Schaumburg, Kenilworth, Long Grove, Palatine, and Barrington.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.

Trust Payments and the Capital Gains Tax

Web Admin - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

capital gains tax in IllinoisThe capital gains tax exists as a way for the government to tax the income that flows to investors from certain investments. In general, the capital gains tax applies to the sale of most assets other than inventory. This includes the sale of things like stocks, bonds, and real estate. The current capital gains tax rates vary depending on a person's income bracket. According to the IRS, the capital gains tax for people in the 25 percent, 28, percent, 33 percent, and 35 percent income tax brackets would be 15 percent.

People paying taxes in the highest bracket, 39.6 percent, would pay 20 percent in capital gains tax, and people in the other, lower tax brackets do not pay capital gains tax at all for most capital gains income. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act also introduced a further 3.8 percent tax on capital gains income for people earning either $200,000 a year as single filers, or $250,000 a year as married filers, which went into effect at the start of 2013.

This capital gains tax can interact with trusts in complex ways, and trustees should be aware of the issues created by the capital gains tax and trusts. First, trustees should be aware of how capital gains affects the way that they manage K-1 tax forms. Second, trustees should keep in mind the interaction between capital gains and the income distribution tax deduction that trusts are allowed to take.

K-1 Forms

K-1 forms are a type of tax form that exists to help the owners of pass through entities fill out their personal income tax returns. Pass through entities are entities like S corporations and some LLCs that do not pay taxes themselves, but instead pass the taxes on to the owners. Trusts, strictly speaking, are not actually pass through entities since the trust is responsible for paying some taxes, but the beneficiaries may also owe taxes based on distributions to them from the trust, so they often receive a K-1 form. As far as the need to report capital gains income on a K-1 form, that depends on the specifics of the trust. As a default rule, the capital gains and losses stay with the trust itself, but the trust instrument may choose to pass those along to the beneficiaries, which would result in the trustee needing to add them to the K-1 form.

Capital Gains and the Income Distribution Deduction

Capital gains may also have an effect on the trust's income distribution deduction, a tax deduction that trusts may take for amounts paid to an income beneficiary. The income distribution deduction is equal to the lesser of either (1) the distributions minus tax-exempt income or (2) the “distributable net income” minus tax exempt income. Capital gains may affect this distribution because it figures into the calculation of distributable net income under several circumstances, most commonly if the trust requires the trustee to distribute the gains to the beneficiaries.

Managing a trust is a complex task from both a legal and financial perspective. If you have questions, seek help from an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney. Our firm's skilled lawyers serve clients in many northwest suburban towns such as Inverness, Barrington, and Kenilworth.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


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