Donate Appreciated Assets to Charity Instead of Selling Outright For Tax and Income Benefits Using a Charitable Remainder Trust
A charitable remainder trust (CRT) may be the right choice for you if you have highly appreciated assets like stock and real estate you want to sell. CRT’s avoid income and estate taxes—all while creating a lifetime income stream for yourself or your family AND supporting your favorite charity.
A CRT is a “split-interest” trust, meaning it provides financial benefits to both the charity and a non-charitable beneficiary. With CRTs, the non-charitable beneficiary—you, your child, spouse, or another heir—receives annual income from the trust, and whatever assets “remain” at the end of the donor’s lifetime (or a fixed period up to 20 years), pass to the named charity(ties).
How a CRT works
We can help you to set up a CRT by naming a trustee, an income beneficiary, and a charitable beneficiary. The trustee will sell, manage, and invest the trust’s assets to produce income that’s paid to you or another beneficiary. The trustee can be yourself, a charity, another person, or a third-party entity. However, the trustee is not only responsible for seeing that your wishes are carried out properly, but also for managing the trust assets in accordance with complex state and federal laws, so be sure the trustee is extremely familiar with trust administration.
With the CRT set up, you transfer your appreciated assets into the trust and the trustee sells it. Normally, this would generate capital gains taxes, but instead you get a charitable deduction for the donation and face no capital gains when the assets are sold. Once the appreciated assets are sold, the proceeds (which haven’t been taxed) are invested to produce income. As long as it remains in the trust, the income isn’t subject to taxes, so you’re earning even more on pre-tax dollars.
You have two options for how the trust income is paid out. With the first option, you can receive an annual fixed payment using a “charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT),” and your income will not change, regardless of the trust’s investment performance. The second option arranges for you to be paid a fixed percentage of the trust’s assets using a “charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT),” whereby the payouts fluctuate depending on the trust’s investment performance and value.
As mentioned above, you can take an income tax deduction within the year the trust was created for the value of your donation—limited to 30% of adjusted gross income. You can carry over any excess into subsequent tax returns for up to five years. Remember that profits from appreciated assets sold by the trustee aren’t subject to capital gains taxes while they’re in the trust. Plus, when the trust assets finally pass to the charity, that donation won’t be subject to estate taxes.
You will pay income tax on income from the CRT at the time it’s distributed. Whether that tax is capital gains or ordinary income depends on where the income came from—distributions of principal are tax free.
If you have highly appreciated assets you’d like to sell while minimizing tax impact, maximizing income, and benefiting charity, consult with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, so we can find the best planning options for you.
This article is a service of Levi Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.