New Questions And Changes On The Federal Estate Tax Return

The 2006 version of Form 706 asks if decedent ever transferred an interest in a closely held entity to certain trusts that are in existence at the decedent’s death. (Part 4, Question 12e). Be careful in looking for technical ways to avoid this question. One way around the question would be to terminate the trusts before the client’s death. But that is not practical in many situations. If the planner is “too clever,” the IRS may say the planner is being misleading and allege a Circular 230 violation. Even if the planner could avoid the current question, the IRS can change the form in the future in reaction to clever plans to avoid the question.

This new question applies retroactively to all transfers made by decedents filing the new Form 706. This question highlights the desirability of reporting sales of discounted interests in closely-held entities on a gift tax return. Eventually the IRS will learn about this transaction.

Recognize that the question only applies to transfers to trusts and not to transfers to individuals.

For decedents dying between 12/31/06 and 1/1/08, the new Form 706 (dated September 2007) makes several additional changes including the following: (a) The instructions on the reverse side of Schedule F lists detailed information that must be supplied to support any valuation discounts of assets listed on Schedule F; (b) any foreign account for which the decedent has an interest or signature authority must be disclosed (Part 4, new question 14); and (c) any private annuity being received by the decedent must be disclosed (Part 4, question 15).

Completing this form can be highly complex. If you need a referral to a qualified tax return preparer experienced with preparing Form 706, Mitchell A. Port can provide tax help.