When creating a trust to hold a business interest it is important to determine where the money will come from to pay the income taxes associated with the profits of the business allocated to the trust. Sometimes the trust instrument is drafted in such a way that the trust legally owns the business interest but the original grantor of the trust is the “deemed owner” for income taxes purposes only. This is common estate planning technique. The value of the business interest is removed from the grantor’s estate for estate tax purposes and the trust assets are not used to pay the income taxes on the profits. In this situation, the original owner is responsible to pay the income taxes but the trust legally owns the business interest.
Since the trust legally owns the business interest, the trust would be entitled to any distributions from the business not the grantor. The grantor would not be entitled to any funds from the business to pay the income taxes. Proper planning is needed to determine how the income taxes will be paid.