Tax Secrets: Learn how to control your assets; tax free

Irv Blackman

Almost all consulting clients – most of whom are readers of this column – we work with have two common objectives: (1) keep control of their business and other assets for as long as they live and (2) don’t lose any of their wealth to the IRS. Typically, they think accomplishing even one of those objectives is the impossible dream. Not true! If you know how, both objectives can be easily – and legally – accomplished.

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To start, let’s use a simple example. You have a 14-year lease on the land and building in which you operate your business. Plus, you have six six-year options (a total of 36 years). So you can control the real estate for half a century, but since you don’t own the real estate, it will never be included in your estate.

It’s a joy to watch the eyes of my clients light up when I explain how they can keep control of different types of assets, yet still legally escape the estate tax collector. Let’s look at the most important types of assets that the typical column reader owns (and wants to control, yet would like to legally avoid the estate tax on those assets).

Your business. Recapitalize your corporation into voting stock (say 100 shares) and nonvoting stock (say 10,000 shares). A tax-free transaction. Give or sell (or a combination) the nonvoting shares to the younger generations of your family. You have absolute control (own the voting stock), but the ownership and taxable value (the nonvoting stock) is out of your estate.

Note: The transfer of your business by sale, using an intentionally defective trust (IDT) makes the price you get 100 percent tax-free. The tax savings (no income tax, no capital gains tax) are huge. The typical tax savings (Federal and state combined) are about $190,000 for each $1 million of the value (price) of the business being transferred. For example, if the price of your business is $4 million, your savings would be $760,000 ($190,000 X 4). Since the business is out of your estate, the estate tax monster gets zero. If you intend to sell or give your business to one (or more) of your kids, make sure you check out an IDT.

Your residence. Transfer your residence to a qualified personal residence trust (QPRT). After the term of the QPRT (typically from 5 to 15 years), the residence is permanently out of your estate. During the term of the trust you continue to live in the residence just as if the trust did not exist. After the term of the trust is over, the trustee (most likely you would be the trustee) would lease the residence to you at a fair rental. More tax savings, because each dollar of rent comes right out of your taxable estate. Since your kids will be the beneficiaries of the QPRT, they will wind up with the house… tax-free. And you have control for as long as you live.

Other assets. These include all income producing and investment assets you own, for example, stocks (other than your closely held business), bonds and real estate. You transfer all these assets to a family limited partnership (FLIP). A tax-free transaction. You become the general partner (like owning the voting stock) and give the limited partnership interests (similar to nonvoting stock) to your children and grandchildren. Results: You have control but not ownership.

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The above discussion only scratches the surface of how you can have your cake (control) and eat it too (conquer the tax collector). Every type of asset you own can enjoy the benefit of similar control/tax-escape strategies.

Let’s summarize: You can control every asset you own now (or acquire later) for as long as you live. Yet, you can remove that asset from your estate for estate tax purposes.

Want to learn more about this fascinating tax-saving (yet do not give up control) subject; browse my website, In a hurry, call me (Irv) at 847-767-5296 or email me (