Tax Court Rules Trusts Can Be Real Estate Professionals

The United States Tax Court has recently released a decision in Frank Aragona Trust v. Commissioner that will affect tax planning for many trusts that own businesses or hold real estate. In that case, a trust operated rental real estate properties and developed other real estate properties. It incurred losses from these activities, which it deducted as non-passive losses.

 Under prior law, rental real estate losses were automatically passive losses unless incurred by a “real estate professional.” The IRS’s position in Frank Aragona Trust was that a trust could never qualify as a real estate professional. However, the Tax Court found for the taxpayer. It stated that a trust could qualify as a real estate professional if the rental real estate activities of its trustees were regular, continuous, and substantial. It did not, however, address whether trusts could count the activities of employees who were not trustees. The decision will also have a significant impact on planning for the Net Investment Income Tax.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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Trusts Can Be Excepted From Passive Activity Losses Related to Real Estate

The IRS has historically argued that trusts are categorically excluded from obtaining an exception to the passive activity rules for rental real estate activities. A recent Tax Court ruling has contradicted this position and indicated that a complex trust engaged in rental real estate activities can qualify for an exception to the passive activity rules.  In determining that the exception was available, the court looked to the activities of the individual trustees and determined that the material participation trust was satisfied. This is an important ruling in the trust income tax regime and creates the opportunity to limit trust exposure to the tax on investment income.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

For more information, contact us