PLR 201834011 – Consequences (or Lack Thereof) of Divisions and Gift of QTIP Income Interest

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PLR 201834011

Consequences (or Lack Thereof) of Divisions and Gift of QTIP Income Interest

Author: Kevin Ellis of Hemenway & Barnes LLP

In PLR 201834011, released August 24, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that a surviving spouse’s division of a Qualified Terminable Interest Property (“QTIP”) Trust, and her subsequent non-qualified disclaimer of the interests of one of the resulting trusts to a charitable remainder beneficiary, has no adverse income, estate or gift tax consequences.

The decedent’s spouse (the “Spouse”) was the beneficiary of a traditional Marital Trust (on which a QTIP election was made) (the “QTIP Trust”). The Spouse proposed, by court-approved agreement, to split the single QTIP Trust into two trusts on a non-pro rata basis, and thereafter to disclaim her interest in one of the two resulting trusts. The underlying trust provided that if the Spouse disclaimed an interest in the QTIP Trust, the disclaimed interest would pass to a charitable trust.

At issue in the PLR were the following:

  1. Would the division of the QTIP Trust trigger any gain recognition or loss?
  2. Would the resulting trusts, after the division, still qualify as QTIP trusts?
  3. Would the deemed gifts from the Spouse’s disclaimer of her interests in one resulting trust qualify for the gift tax charitable deduction?
  4. Would such a gift of the assets of one of the resulting trusts remove those assets from the Spouse’s gross estate?
  5. Would the disclaimer as to one of the resulting trusts also cause a deemed gift of the other, non-disclaimed trust (of which the Spouse continued to be the sole income beneficiary)?
  6. Would the disclaimer cause the Spouse’s retained interest in the non-disclaimed trust to be valued at zero under IRC § 2702 (and presumably cause a deemed gift as a result)?

The IRS’s ruling was favorable to the taxpayer on all accounts. The ruling bifurcated the proposed transaction – first, the division of the QTIP Trust into two resulting trusts, and next, the subsequent gift of interests in one of those trusts. The IRS ruled that:

  1. The non-pro rata division of the QTIP Trust into two resulting trusts (one of which the Spouse would disclaim) would not cause a recognition of any gain or loss under IRC §61 or §1001 because the same beneficiary – the Spouse – held the same interests in the QTIP Trust before and after division.
  2. The division of the QTIP Trust would not disqualify the two resulting trusts from continued treatment as QTIP trusts. The terms of the resulting trusts mirrored those of the QTIP Trust, and the Spouse continued to be the sole income beneficiary, with a qualifying lifetime income interest in both resulting trusts.
  3. The Spouse will be treated as having made a gift of her income and remainder interests in the disclaimed resulting trust, and such a gift qualifies for the gift tax charitable deduction (because the disclaimed assets pass to a charitable trust). It is important to note that IRC §§ 2511 and 2519, together, provide that when a spouse makes a gift (or makes a non-qualified disclaimer, which is treated like a gift) of her income interest in a QTIP trust, she is deemed to have made a gift of the entire property of such QTIP trust – even though she only had an income interest in the property. In this case, that gift of the entire interest was not an issue because the gift tax charitable deduction allowed for deductibility of the entire gift.
  4. The assets of the disclaimed trust are deemed to have been transferred under IRC §2519, and as a result will not be included in the Spouse’s gross estate under IRC §2044(a).
  5. Following on the IRS’s treatment of the transaction as two separate steps, the deemed gift of the assets of one resulting trust would not cause a deemed gift of the assets of the retained resulting trust under IRC §2519 because the two trusts were to be treated as distinct, separate trusts.
  6. Building on the findings in (4) and (5), the IRS concluded that the Spouse’s disclaimer of the assets in one resulting trust will not cause her interest in the retained trust to be valued at zero under IRC §2702, again because the two trusts were distinct and separate from each other.

The full PLR can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-wd/201834011.pdf