The IRS recently issued proposed regulations under Internal Revenue Code Section 2704 that, if finalized, would curtail or eliminate valuation discounts for gift and estate tax purposes. These regulations would affect the gift and estate tax value of family-owned business entities, including both active businesses and family investment vehicles such as family limited partnerships (FLPs) and limited liability companies (LLCs).
We want to answer a few basic questions you might have about the proposed regulations. Please contact your Day Pitney attorney if you would like to discuss their impact on your own situation in more detail.
Do these proposed regulations affect me?
If you have an interest in a family-owned business entity and your estate could be subject to federal or state estate tax (and thus affected by no longer being able to value those interests based on fractional-interest or other discounts), these regulations could have a major impact on you.
How might these regulations affect me if I have an active family business, FLP or LLC, or if I am planning to set up an FLP or LLC?
These regulations, if finalized, could significantly increase the estate tax attributable to these business interests, which would be due on your death.
It is often advantageous to give or sell minority or noncontrolling interests in family entities to loved ones or to trusts for the benefit of loved ones. Under current law, noncontrolling interests can be discounted for gift tax purposes due to a lack of marketability and/or a lack of ability to control the entity. These valuation discounts can reduce the gift tax value of the interests that are transferred (on the order of 30-40 percent in many cases). For estate tax purposes, similar discounts may apply if the decedent did not own a controlling interest in the entity on her death. These discounts can lead to considerable gift and estate tax savings.
The proposed regulations would eliminate valuation discounts for FLPs and LLCs and reduce or possibly eliminate valuation discounts for active family businesses.
Is there any good news in these proposed regulations?
Although there is a lot of uncertainty, there is some time to plan for these potential changes. Also, the proposed regulations could actually lead to some income tax benefits for people who inherit noncontrolling interests in family businesses and later sell them, by creating a higher step-up in “basis” for income tax purposes at death. For smaller estates under the estate tax thresholds, the income tax advantages may actually outweigh the estate tax disadvantages.
OK, so what should I do?
Every situation is different, of course, and individualized advice is essential, but you may wish to:
... And when should I do it?
It is impossible to know when or whether these proposed regulations will be finalized and what changes might be made to them before they are finalized. For planning purposes, we have to assume these regulations will be finalized in something like their current form and go into effect as soon as the end of this year.
If you are concerned that these regulations might affect you, please contact your Day Pitney estate planning attorney right away in order to better understand your planning options. It will take some time to make decisions and then to plan and implement any transfers or other changes.
Carl Merino authored an international practice feature article, "U.S. Owners of Foreign Corporations Face New Hurdles," published in the April 2019 issue of Trusts & Estates magazine.
Carl Merino co-authored an article, entitled "Beneficiaries of S Corp Stock," published in the March 2019 edition of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Journal.
On March 14, Dina Kapur Sanna spoke on a panel, "Nuts and Bolts of Domesticating Foreign Trust Structures," at the 15th Annual International Estate Planning Institute, hosted by the New York State Bar Association and chaired by Warren Whitaker.
On March 14, Emily Belfer will be speaking at the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) Disabilities Seminar.
On March 8, Scott Beach will participate in a panel presentation entitled "Family Office Megatrends" at the 2019 Family Office Association (FOA) National Summit in Palm Beach, FL.
Day Pitney Press Release
Day Pitney's Family Office and Trusts and Estates practices have been shortlisted in two categories, "Best Private Client Law Firm" and "Best Trusts and Estates Division," for the 2019 Private Asset Management Awards.
Day Pitney's Family Office and Trusts and Estates practices have been shortlisted in the "Legal Team of the Year" private client category for the 2019 Family Wealth Report Awards.
Darren Wallace was quoted in an article, "Paul Allen's $26 Billion Estate Will Take Years to Unravel," published by Bloomberg.
On October 3, Day Pitney LLP and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Northeast Chapter – Women's Initiative co-presented a program, "The Power of Women with Wealth," held at Day Pitney's Boston office.