Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs”) are a popular technique for obtaining income tax benefits and providing money to charity. Due to a law passed in 2001 as part of the Act that repealed estate taxes for this year, there is a significant gift tax risk associated with CRTs established this year.
Many CRTs make payments to the grantor of the trust for lifetime or for a period of years. The unintended effect of the law is to treat the Grantor’s retained interest in a CRT as a taxable gift. The "phantom" taxable gift will cause unnecessary gift taxes to be paid and/or increase estate taxes payable upon the Grantor’s death.
Several groups have written letters to the IRS requesting relief from the gift tax problem. Treasury officials have informally advised certain attorneys that guidance concerning this issue will be forthcoming in the near future. It is not certain what the guidance will say. Therefore, you should not create a CRT until the guidance is issued.