Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Fred Trump's Tax-Averse Estate Planning

Fred Trump in 1950
Seemed like a quiet year for estate planners. With the Trump tax cuts old news, the Heckerling Institute resorted to promos on NPR to drum up business.

But now Heckerling attendees will have plenty to talk about. The New York Times has published a virtually endless study, adorned with audio-visuals, of how Fred Trump passed his real estate fortune to his children, and most especially to his celebrity son, Donald. Hidden gifts! A large GRAT valued for little! An overreaching codicil that Donald tried, unsuccessfully, to attach to Fred Trump's will!

Even in the age of fake news, you can't make this stuff up.


Jim Gust said...

There's nothing dubious about GRATs, and achieve discounts for transfers of family wealth is a routine topic every year at Heckerling. The "fake news" comes from the NYTimes spin on routine estate planning strategies.

Jim Gust said...

I read the whole article. I have just one question: Where did the NYTimes acquire Fred Trump's gift tax returns? The real crime in this story was the disclosure of tax return information that must by law remain confidential!

I suspect that someone at IRS leaked it--they should be prosecuted prono.

JLM said...

Nothing wrong with GRATs, Sheldon Adelson manufactures them by the dozen. What the Times questions are the absurdly low valuations placed on assets transferred to the Trump trusts BEFORE applying the discount.

Jim Gust said...

It's real estate, absurdly low valuations happen outside the family context also.

What's really absurd is ever thinking a 55% tax rate is legitimate. It's nothing more than a punitive stick.

Even 40% is much too high. Death taxes should be assessed at 10%--if they did that, the benefit of costly tax planning would evaporate and they could collect some real money.

But raising revenue was never the true object of the estate tax.

JLM said...

A 10% tax rate would be sensible. A 55% tax rate would enrich estate planners – sort of like a Trump tariff on wealth transfers.