The word is out in the estate planning bar that the IRS is looking at making an announcement this September about a favorite tax benefit gained from the use of family partnerships and LLCs. New regulations would effectively raise the taxable value of assets transferred into these entities, which currently enjoy a generous discount. Wealthy clients are being advised to set up partnerships now to capture what remains of these discounts before the new rules take effect.
According an article in Barron’s titled “IRS Considers New Tax on Wealthy Families,” any changes to tax benefits affection family partnerships and LLCs could have significant consequences.
The article explains that partnerships and LLCs currently let families pass on a minority stake in the family business or in a pool of privately-held investments to their children with little or no tax consequences. This is because minority shares in a private business are illiquid, or unable to be easily sold or exchanged for cash without a substantial loss in value. They are worth less, from a tax perspective, than their stated market value. This is a big help to families who want to lower the taxable value of their assets, and in some cases below the $5.43 million gift-tax exemption. It also works even if the underlying investments getting passed on are liquid. The discount could be as much as 20% to 25%.