A New York Surrogate’s Court judge recently handed down a ruling striking down a substantial state Tax Department penalty levied against the surviving spouse who became the beneficiary of a qualified terminable interest property trust (QTIP) established by the deceased husband. The judge’s order could have further reaching implications for other QTIP trusts established under similar circumstances.
The ruling effectively reverses a $462,546 levied by the state Tax Department against because the QTIP trust was established in 2010 during a one-year suspension of the federal estate tax. Under the wording of New York state tax laws, the state could not levy taxes on a trust that the federal government itself could not. The case represents a special set of circumstances that other individuals in similar positions may be able to take advantage of in order to avoid paying costly taxes on their QTIP trust.
Ordinarily, a QTIP trust allows a tax deferral on an trust, not a tax avoidance, by allowing the assets of a deceased spouse to pass on to the surviving spouse without taxation. However, upon the passing of the second spouse, the QTIP assets and the second spouse’s estate are subject to inheritance taxes. In this case, the lawyers for the trust holders were savvy enough to argue that the way New York estate laws were written would allow QTIP trusts established in 2010 to be passed on without any tax.