Tax Reform: Trust and Estate Key Tax Rate Changes

September 9, 2020 | Article

The impact of tax reform and new tax law continues to have lasting impacts. Reviewing how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affects trusts and estates is also important because modifications may need to be made to ensure the best possible outcome.

Here are a few key considerations when it comes to trust and estates and the impact of tax reform:

Trust Tax Rates
The United States tax rates and brackets for trusts and estates continue to change. The tax rates, which are shown below, are to be used for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2018, and through 2025.  Unless revised by future legislation, the rates and brackets will revert back to 2017 levels after 2025. A comparison of the 2017 tax rates and brackets to the trust tax rates 2019 are as follows:

2017 Estate and Trust Income Tax Rates
If taxable income is: The tax is:
Not over $2,550 15% of taxable income
Over $2,550 but not over $6,000 $382.50 plus 25% of the excess over $2,550
Over $6,000 but not over $9,150 $1,245 plus 28% of the excess over $6,000
Over $9,150 but not over $12,500 $2,127 plus 33% of the excess over $9,150
Over $12,500 $3,232.50 plus 39.6% of the excess over $12,500

Review your tax policy regularly to ensure you’re prepared. Read on to see what happened to one individual who wasn’t prepared to take action.


2019 Estate and Trust Income Tax Rates
If taxable income is: The tax is:
Not over $2,600 10% of taxable income
Over $2,601 but not over $9,300 24% of the excess
Over $9,301 but not over $12,750 35% of the excess
Over $12,750 37% of the excess

State income taxes and real estate taxes, in the United States, are limited to $10,000 (same limitations as individual taxpayers), but an exception for property taxes that are incurred in a trade or business appears to have been provided. However, miscellaneous itemized deductions will be disallowed. These are the deductions which were previously subject to the 2 percent limitation on fiduciary returns. An example of this type of deduction is investment fees/expenses. In addition, administration expenses incurred by an estate/trust, including fiduciary fees, legal fees and tax preparation fees may still be deductible depending on the underlying purpose of the expense being related to an income producing activity.

Bundled Fees
Estates and trusts which pay a “bundled” fee to a corporate trustee will need to allocate the total fee between investment expense and fiduciary fee. Corporate trustees should review their allocation of the bundled fee, since the investment fee is now nondeductible, rather than subject to the prior 2 percent limitation.

Qualified Business Income
Estates and trusts are able to take advantage of the 20 percent deduction for qualified business income (Section 199A). For tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, the act generally allows a new tax deduction for individuals, trusts and estates of 20 percent of the domestic qualified business income generated by certain sole-proprietorships and pass-through entities (partnerships, S corporations and LLCs). Depending on taxable income, the standard deduction may be subject to a limit based on wages paid by the business or wages paid plus a capital amount, and certain service business activities may not qualify for the deduction. This new tax deduction is slated to expire after 2025 like most other individual tax provisions in the act. In light of the tax reform changes, and the effect on owners, pass-through entities may decide to re-evaluate the pros and cons of their current business structure.

Net Operating Losses
Net operating losses can no longer be carried back. The losses can only be carried forward indefinitely. In addition, net operating losses can only offset 80 percent of taxable income in carryover years.

The Next Step for Your Estate Planning Needs
As you can tell, there are many estate and trust tax reform changes that need to be discussed and considered. Take the time to review your tax policy documents with your business advisor and ensure they are not only up-to-date, but properly prepared to embrace flexibility in ever changing legislation. For more information on tax reform, tax, code, your tax return, state and local taxes, the United States federal tax system and more, contact us today.

Our holistic approach involves tax professionals, financial advisors, business advisors, estate planners and business valuation analysts who can help you meet your estate planning needs.

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