Internal Revenue Bulletin:  2007-36 

September 4, 2007 

REG-128224-06

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Public Hearing Section 67 Limitations on Estates or Trusts


AGENCY:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of public hearing.

SUMMARY:

This document contains proposed regulations that provide guidance on which costs incurred by estates or non-grantor trusts are subject to the 2-percent floor for miscellaneous itemized deductions under section 67(a). The regulations will affect estates and non-grantor trusts. This document also provides notice of a public hearing on these proposed regulations.

DATES:

Written and electronic comments must be received by October 25, 2007. Outlines of topics to be discussed at the public hearing scheduled for November 14, 2007 must be received by October 24, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

Send submissions to CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-128224-06), room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, PO Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Submissions may be hand-delivered Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-128224-06), Courier’s Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC, or sent electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/ (indicate IRS and REG-128224-06). The public hearing will be held in the IRS Auditorium, Internal Revenue Building, 1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Concerning the proposed regulations, Jennifer N. Keeney, (202) 622-3060; concerning submissions of comments, the hearing, or to be placed on the building access list to attend the hearing, Richard A. Hurst, (202) 622-7180 (not toll-free numbers).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

This document contains proposed amendments to 26 CFR part 1. Section 67(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) provides that, for an individual taxpayer, miscellaneous itemized deductions are allowed only to the extent that the aggregate of those deductions exceeds 2 percent of adjusted gross income. Section 67(b) excludes certain itemized deductions from the definition of “miscellaneous itemized deductions”. Section 67(e) provides that, for purposes of section 67, the adjusted gross income of an estate or trust shall be computed in the same manner as in the case of an individual. However, section 67(e)(1) provides that the deductions for costs paid or incurred in connection with the administration of the estate or trust and which would not have been incurred if the property were not held in such estate or trust shall be treated as allowable in arriving at adjusted gross income. Therefore, deductions described in section 67(e)(1) are not subject to the 2-percent floor for miscellaneous itemized deductions under section 67(a).

United States courts of appeals have interpreted the language of section 67(e)(1) differently in determining whether costs incurred by trustees are subject to the 2-percent floor. The issue in each case has been whether the trust’s costs (specifically, investment advisory fees) “would not have been incurred if the property were not held in such trust or estate.” In O’Neill v. Commissioner, 994 F.2d 302 (6th Cir. 1993), the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that investment advisory fees paid for professional investment services were fully deductible under section 67(e)(1) where the trustees lacked experience in managing large sums of money. The court found that, under state law, the trustee was required to engage an investment advisor to meet its fiduciary obligations and to incur fees that the trust would not have incurred if the property were not held in trust. The court held that estate or trust expenditures that are necessary to meet specific fiduciary obligations under state law are not subject to the 2-percent floor. In contrast, in Mellon Bank, N.A. v. United States, 265 F.3d 1275 (Fed. Cir. 2001), Scott v. United States, 328 F.3d 132 (4th Cir. 2003), and Rudkin v. Commissioner, 467 F.3d 149 (2d Cir. 2006), the courts held that investment advisory fees are subject to the 2-percent floor. These courts read the language of section 67(e)(1) differently than the Sixth Circuit. Specifically, the courts in Scott and Mellon Bank concluded that a trust expense is subject to the 2-percent floor if it is an expense “commonly” or “customarily” incurred by individuals; and the court in Rudkin looked to whether such an expense was “peculiar to trusts” and “could not” be incurred by an individual.

The result of this lack of consistency in the case law is that the deductions of similarly situated taxpayers may or may not be subject to the 2-percent floor, depending upon the jurisdiction in which the executor or the trustee is located. The IRS and the Treasury Department believe that similarly situated taxpayers should be treated consistently by having section 67(e)(1) construed and applied in the same way in all jurisdictions. The proposed regulations are intended to provide a uniform standard for identifying the types of costs that are not subject to the 2-percent floor under section 67(e)(1).

Explanation of Provisions

These proposed regulations provide that costs incurred by estates or non-grantor trusts that are unique to an estate or trust are not subject to the 2-percent floor. For this purpose, a cost is unique to an estate or trust if an individual could not have incurred that cost in connection with property not held in an estate or trust. To the extent that expenses paid or incurred by an estate or non-grantor trust do not meet this standard, they are subject to the 2-percent floor of section 67(a). (Neither section 67 nor this rule applies to expenses that are excluded under section 67(b) from the definition of miscellaneous itemized deductions, or to expenses related to a trade or business.)

Under the proposed regulations, whether costs are subject to the 2-percent floor on miscellaneous itemized deductions depends on the type of services provided, rather than on taxpayer characterizations or labels for such services. Thus, taxpayers may not circumvent the 2-percent floor by “bundling” investment advisory fees and trustees’ fees into a single fee. The regulations provide that, if an estate or non-grantor trust pays a single fee that includes both costs that are unique to estates and trusts and costs that are not, then the estate or non-grantor trust must use a reasonable method to allocate the single fee between the two types of costs. The regulations also provide a non-exclusive list of services for which the cost is either exempt from or subject to the 2-percent floor. The IRS and the Treasury Department invite comments on whether any safe harbors or other guidance, concerning allocation methods or otherwise, would be helpful.

Proposed Effective Date

The regulations, as proposed, apply to payments made after the date final regulations are published in Federal Register.

Special Analyses

It has been determined that this notice of proposed rulemaking is not a significant regulatory action as defined in Executive Order 12866. Therefore, a regulatory assessment is not required. It has also been determined that section 553(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 5) does not apply to these regulations, and because these regulations do not impose a collection of information on small entities, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) does not apply. Therefore, a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required. Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Code, this notice of proposed rulemaking has been submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on its impact on small business.

Comments and Public Hearing

Before these proposed regulations are adopted as final regulations, consideration will be given to any written (a signed original and eight (8) copies) or electronic comments that are submitted timely to the IRS. The IRS and Treasury Department request comments on the proposed rules, as well as their clarity and how they can be made easier to understand. All comments will be available for public inspection and copying.

A public hearing has been scheduled for November 14, 2007, beginning at 10 a.m. in the IRS Auditorium, Internal Revenue Building, 1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. Due to building security procedures, visitors must enter at the Constitution Avenue entrance. In addition, all visitors must present photo identification to enter the building. Because of access restrictions, visitors will not be admitted beyond the immediate entrance area more than 15 minutes before the hearing starts. For information about having your name placed on the building access list to attend the hearing, see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this preamble.

The rules of 26 CFR 601.601(a)(3) apply to the hearing. Persons who wish to present oral comments at the hearing must submit written or electronic comments and an outline of the topics to be discussed and the time to be devoted to each topic (signed original and eight (8) copies) by October 24, 2007. A period of 10 minutes will be allotted to each person for making comments. An agenda showing the schedule of speakers will be prepared after the deadline for receiving outlines has passed. Copies of the agenda will be available free of charge at the hearing.

Proposed Amendments to the Regulations

Accordingly, 26 CFR part 1 is proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 1—INCOME TAXES

Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 1 continues to read in part as follows:

Authority: 26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

Par. 2. Section 1.67-4 is added to read as follows:

§1.67-4 Costs paid or incurred by estates or non-grantor trusts.

(a) In general. Section 67(e) provides an exception to the 2-percent floor on miscellaneous itemized deductions for costs that are paid or incurred in connection with the administration of an estate or a trust not described in §1.67-2T(g)(1)(i) (a non-grantor trust) and which would not have been incurred if the property were not held in such estate or trust. To the extent that a cost incurred by an estate or non-grantor trust is unique to such an entity, that cost is not subject to the 2-percent floor on miscellaneous itemized deductions. To the extent that a cost included in the definition of miscellaneous itemized deductions and incurred by an estate or non-grantor trust is not unique to such an entity, that cost is subject to the 2-percent floor.

(b) Unique. For purposes of this section, a cost is unique to an estate or a non-grantor trust if an individual could not have incurred that cost in connection with property not held in an estate or trust. In making this determination, it is the type of product or service rendered to the estate or trust, rather than the characterization of the cost of that product or service, that is relevant. A non-exclusive list of products or services that are unique to an estate or trust includes those rendered in connection with: fiduciary accountings; judicial or quasi-judicial filings required as part of the administration of the estate or trust; fiduciary income tax and estate tax returns; the division or distribution of income or corpus to or among beneficiaries; trust or will contest or construction; fiduciary bond premiums; and communications with beneficiaries regarding estate or trust matters. A non-exclusive list of products or services that are not unique to an estate or trust, and therefore are subject to the 2-percent floor, includes those rendered in connection with: custody or management of property; advice on investing for total return; gift tax returns; the defense of claims by creditors of the decedent or grantor; and the purchase, sale, maintenance, repair, insurance or management of non-trade or business property.

(c) “Bundled fees”. If an estate or a non-grantor trust pays a single fee, commission or other expense for both costs that are unique to estates and trusts and costs that are not, then the estate or non-grantor trust must identify the portion (if any) of the legal, accounting, investment advisory, appraisal or other fee, commission or expense that is unique to estates and trusts and is thus not subject to the 2-percent floor. The taxpayer must use any reasonable method to allocate the single fee, commission or expense between the costs unique to estates and trusts and other costs.

(d) Effective/applicability date. These regulations are proposed to be effective for payments made after the date final regulations are published in Federal Register.

Kevin M. Brown,
Deputy Commissioner for
Services and Enforcement.

Note

(Filed by the Office of the Federal Register on July 26, 2007, 8:45 a.m., and published in the issue of the Federal Register for July 27, 2007, 72 F.R. 41243)

Drafting Information

The principal author of these regulations is Jennifer N. Keeney, Office of the Office of Associate Chief Counsel (Passthroughs and Special Industries).

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