When planning an international trust, a Clifford Trust will allow a grantor to transfer high net worth assets that produce taxable income into an estate’s trust with the option of reclaim at time of trust expiry. Though used little at present, the Clifford Trust offers the opportunity for high net worth beneficiaries tax relief. If planning an international trust involving foreign national beneficiaries, a Clifford Trust will protect heirs from withholding tax at time of transfer (12 Int’l Bus. Law. 394 (1984)).
Rules to ‘Clifford Trust’ Tax Shelters
Prior to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Clifford Trusts have been used to tax-shelter assets through transfer of earned income to children from a parent or grandparent’s estate. Post-enactment of the Act, it was mandated that Clifford Trust income be taxed to the grantor, making these trusts nearly obsolete since with exception of use as an effective legal means for large tax expense avoidance and to avoid withholding by international trusts involving foreign national family beneficiaries.