26 CFR § 1.679-2 - Trusts treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.

§ 1.679-2 Trusts treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.

(a) Existence of U.S. beneficiary -

(1) In general. The determination of whether a foreign trust has a U.S. beneficiary is made on an annual basis. A foreign trust is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary unless during the taxable year of the U.S. transferor -

(i) No part of the income or corpus of the trust may be paid or accumulated to or for the benefit of, directly or indirectly, a U.S. person; and

(ii) If the trust is terminated at any time during the taxable year, no part of the income or corpus of the trust could be paid to or for the benefit of, directly or indirectly, a U.S. person.

(2) Benefit to a U.S. person -

(i) In general. For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, income or corpus may be paid or accumulated to or for the benefit of a U.S. person during a taxable year of the U.S. transferor if during that year, directly or indirectly, income may be distributed to, or accumulated for the benefit of, a U.S. person, or corpus may be distributed to, or held for the future benefit of, a U.S. person. This determination is made without regard to whether income or corpus is actually distributed to a U.S. person during that year, and without regard to whether a U.S. person's interest in the trust income or corpus is contingent on a future event.

(ii) Certain unexpected beneficiaries. Notwithstanding paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, for purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a person who is not named as a beneficiary and is not a member of a class of beneficiaries as defined under the trust instrument is not taken into consideration if the U.S. transferor demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the person's contingent interest in the trust is so remote as to be negligible. The preceding sentence does not apply with respect to persons to whom distributions could be made pursuant to a grant of discretion to the trustee or any other person. A class of beneficiaries generally does not include heirs who will benefit from the trust under the laws of intestate succession in the event that the named beneficiaries (or members of the named class) have all deceased (whether or not stated as a named class in the trust instrument).

(iii) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section. In these examples, A is a resident alien, B is A's son, who is a resident alien, C is A's daughter, who is a nonresident alien, and FT is a foreign trust. The examples are as follows:

Example 1. Distribution of income to U.S. person. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that all trust income is to be distributed currently to B. Under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 2. Income accumulation for the benefit of a U.S. person.
In 2001, A transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that from 2001 through 2010, the trustee of FT may distribute trust income to C or may accumulate the trust income. The trust instrument further provides that in 2011, the trust will terminate and the trustee may distribute the trust assets to either or both of B and C, in the trustee's discretion. If the trust terminates unexpectedly prior to 2011, all trust assets must be distributed to C. Because it is possible that income may be accumulated in each year, and that the accumulated income ultimately may be distributed to B, a U.S. person, under paragraph (a)(1) of this section FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary during each of A's tax years from 2001 through 2011. This result applies even though no U.S. person may receive distributions from the trust during the tax years 2001 through 2010.
Example 3. Corpus held for the benefit of a U.S. person.
The facts are the same as in Example 2, except that from 2001 through 2011, all trust income must be distributed to C. In 2011, the trust will terminate and the trustee may distribute the trust corpus to either or both of B and C, in the trustee's discretion. If the trust terminates unexpectedly prior to 2011, all trust corpus must be distributed to C. Because during each of A's tax years from 2001 through 2011 trust corpus is held for possible future distribution to B, a U.S. person, under paragraph (a)(1) of this section FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary during each of those years. This result applies even though no U.S. person may receive distributions from the trust during the tax years 2001 through 2010.
Example 4. Distribution upon U.S. transferor's death. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that all trust income must be distributed currently to C and, upon A's death, the trust will terminate and the trustee may distribute the trust corpus to either or both of B and C. Because B may receive a distribution of corpus upon the termination of FT, and FT could terminate in any year, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary in the year of the transfer and in subsequent years.
Example 5. Distribution after U.S. transferor's death.
The facts are the same as in Example 4, except the trust instrument provides that the trust will not terminate until the year following A's death. Upon termination, the trustee may distribute the trust assets to either or both of B and C, in the trustee's discretion. All trust assets are invested in the stock of X, a foreign corporation, and X makes no distributions to FT. Although no U.S. person may receive a distribution until the year after A's death, and FT has no realized income during any year of its existence, during each year in which A is living corpus may be held for future distribution to B, a U.S. person. Thus, under paragraph (a)(1) of this section FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary during each of A's tax years from 2001 through the year of A's death.
Example 6. Constructive benefit to U.S. person. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that no income or corpus may be paid directly to a U.S. person. However, the trust instrument provides that trust corpus may be used to satisfy B's legal obligations to a third party by making a payment directly to the third party. Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 7. U.S. person with negligible contingent interest. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that all income is to be distributed currently to C, and upon C's death, all corpus is to be distributed to whomever of C's three children is then living. All of C's children are nonresident aliens. Under the laws of intestate succession that would apply to FT, if all of C's children are deceased at the time of C's death, the corpus would be distributed to A's heirs. A's living relatives at the time of the transfer consist solely of two brothers and two nieces, all of whom are nonresident aliens, and two first cousins, one of whom, E, is a U.S. citizen. Although it is possible under certain circumstances that E could receive a corpus distribution under the applicable laws of intestate succession, for each year the trust is in existence A is able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Commissioner under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section that E's contingent interest in FT is so remote as to be negligible. Provided that paragraph (a)(4) of this section does not require a different result, FT is not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 8. U.S. person with non-negligible contingent interest. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that all income is to be distributed currently to D, A's uncle, who is a nonresident alien, and upon A's death, the corpus is to be distributed to D if he is then living. Under the laws of intestate succession that would apply to FT, B and C would share equally in the trust corpus if D is not living at the time of A's death. A is unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that B's contingent interest in the trust is so remote as to be negligible. Under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary as of the year of the transfer.
Example 9. U.S. person as member of class of beneficiaries. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that all income is to be distributed currently to D, A's uncle, who is a nonresident alien, and upon A's death, the corpus is to be distributed to D if he is then living. If D is not then living, the corpus is to be distributed to D's descendants. D's grandson, E, is a resident alien. Under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary as of the year of the transfer.
Example 10. Trustee's discretion in choosing beneficiaries. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that the trustee may distribute income and corpus to, or accumulate income for the benefit of, any person who is pursuing the academic study of ancient Greek, in the trustee's discretion. Because it is possible that a U.S. person will receive distributions of income or corpus, or will have income accumulated for his benefit, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary. This result applies even if, during a tax year, no distributions or accumulations are actually made to or for the benefit of a U.S. person. A may not invoke paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section because a U.S. person could benefit pursuant to a grant of discretion in the trust instrument.
Example 11. Appointment of remainder beneficiary. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that the trustee may distribute current income to C, or may accumulate income, and, upon termination of the trust, trust assets are to be distributed to C. However, the trust instrument further provides that D, A's uncle, may appoint a different remainder beneficiary. Because it is possible that a U.S. person could be named as the remainder beneficiary, and because corpus could be held in each year for the future benefit of that U.S. person, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary for each year.
Example 12. Trust not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that the trustee may distribute income and corpus to, or accumulate income for the benefit of C. Upon termination of the trust, all income and corpus must be distributed to C. Assume that paragraph (a)(4) of this section is not applicable under the facts and circumstances and that A establishes to the satisfaction of the Commissioner under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section that no U.S. persons are reasonably expected to benefit from the trust. Because no part of the income or corpus of the trust may be paid or accumulated to or for the benefit of, either directly or indirectly, a U.S. person, and if the trust is terminated no part of the income or corpus of the trust could be paid to or for the benefit of, either directly or indirectly, a U.S. person, FT is not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 13. U.S. beneficiary becomes non-U.S. person.
In 2001, A transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that, as long as B remains a U.S. resident, no distributions of income or corpus may be made from the trust to B. The trust instrument further provides that if B becomes a nonresident alien, distributions of income (including previously accumulated income) and corpus may be made to him. If B remains a U.S. resident at the time of FT's termination, all accumulated income and corpus is to be distributed to C. In 2007, B becomes a nonresident alien and remains so thereafter. Because income may be accumulated during the years 2001 through 2007 for the benefit of a person who is a U.S. person during those years, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary under paragraph (a)(1) of this section during each of those years. This result applies even though B cannot receive distributions from FT during the years he is a resident alien and even though B might remain a resident alien who is not entitled to any distribution from FT. Provided that paragraph (a)(4) of this section does not require a different result and that A establishes to the satisfaction of the Commissioner under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section that no other U.S. persons are reasonably expected to benefit from the trust, FT is not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary under paragraph (a)(1) of this section during tax years after 2007.

(3) Changes in beneficiary's status -

(i) In general. For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the possibility that a person that is not a U.S. person could become a U.S. person will not cause that person to be treated as a U.S. person for purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section until the tax year of the U.S. transferor in which that individual actually becomes a U.S. person. However, if a person who is not a U.S. person becomes a U.S. person for the first time more than 5 years after the date of a transfer to the foreign trust by a U.S. transferor, that person is not treated as a U.S. person for purposes of applying paragraph (a)(1) of this section with respect to that transfer.

(ii) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of paragraph (a)(3) of this section. In these examples, A is a resident alien, B is A's son, who is a resident alien, C is A's daughter, who is a nonresident alien, and FT is a foreign trust. The examples are as follows:

Example 1. Non-U.S. beneficiary becomes U.S. person.
In 2001, A transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that all income is to be distributed currently to C and that, upon the termination of FT, all corpus is to be distributed to C. Assume that paragraph (a)(4) of this section is not applicable under the facts and circumstances and that A establishes to the satisfaction of the Commissioner under paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section that no U.S. persons are reasonably expected to benefit from the trust. Under paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, FT is not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary during the tax years of A in which C remains a nonresident alien. If C first becomes a resident alien in 2004, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary commencing in that year under paragraph (a)(3) of this section. See paragraph (c) of this section regarding the treatment of A upon FT's acquisition of a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 2. Non-U.S. beneficiary becomes U.S. person more than 5 years after transfer.
The facts are the same as in Example 1, except C first becomes a resident alien in 2007. FT is treated as not having a U.S. beneficiary under paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section with respect to the property transfer by A. However, if C had previously been a U.S. person during any prior period, the 5-year exception in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section would not apply in 2007 because it would not have been the first time C became a U.S. person.

(4) General rules -

(i) Records and documents. Even if, based on the terms of the trust instrument, a foreign trust is not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary within the meaning of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the trust may nevertheless be treated as having a U.S. beneficiary pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section based on the following -

(A) All written and oral agreements and understandings relating to the trust;

(B) Memoranda or letters of wishes;

(C) All records that relate to the actual distribution of income and corpus; and

(D) All other documents that relate to the trust, whether or not of any purported legal effect.

(ii) Additional factors. For purposes of determining whether a foreign trust is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary within the meaning of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the following additional factors are taken into account -

(A) If the terms of the trust instrument allow the trust to be amended to benefit a U.S. person, all potential benefits that could be provided to a U.S. person pursuant to an amendment must be taken into account;

(B) If the terms of the trust instrument do not allow the trust to be amended to benefit a U.S. person, but the law applicable to a foreign trust may require payments or accumulations of income or corpus to or for the benefit of a U.S. person (by judicial reformation or otherwise), all potential benefits that could be provided to a U.S. person pursuant to the law must be taken into account, unless the U.S. transferor demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that the law is not reasonably expected to be applied or invoked under the facts and circumstances; and

(C) If the parties to the trust ignore the terms of the trust instrument, or if it is reasonably expected that they will do so, all benefits that have been, or are reasonably expected to be, provided to a U.S. person must be taken into account.

(iii) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of paragraph (a)(4) of this section. In these examples, A is a resident alien, B is A's son, who is a resident alien, C is A's daughter, who is a nonresident alien, and FT is a foreign trust. The examples are as follows:

Example 1. Amendment pursuant to local law. A
creates and funds FT for the benefit of C. The terms of FT (which, according to the trust instrument, cannot be amended) provide that no part of the income or corpus of FT may be paid or accumulated during the taxable year to or for the benefit of any U.S. person, either during the existence of FT or at the time of its termination. However, pursuant to the applicable foreign law, FT can be amended to provide for additional beneficiaries, and there is an oral understanding between A and the trustee that B can be added as a beneficiary. Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(4)(ii)(B) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 2. Actions in violation of the terms of the trust. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that no U.S. person can receive income or corpus from FT during the term of the trust or at the termination of FT. Notwithstanding the terms of the trust instrument, a letter of wishes directs the trustee of FT to provide for the educational needs of B, who is about to begin college. The letter of wishes contains a disclaimer to the effect that its contents are only suggestions and recommendations and that the trustee is at all times bound by the terms of the trust as set forth in the trust instrument. Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(4)(ii)(C) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.

(b) Indirect U.S. beneficiaries -

(1) Certain foreign entities. For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, an amount is treated as paid or accumulated to or for the benefit of a U.S. person if the amount is paid to or accumulated for the benefit of -

(i) A controlled foreign corporation, as defined in section 957(a);

(ii) A foreign partnership, if a U.S. person is a partner of such partnership; or

(iii) A foreign trust or estate, if such trust or estate has a U.S. beneficiary (within the meaning of paragraph (a)(1) of this section).

(2) Other indirect beneficiaries. For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, an amount is treated as paid or accumulated to or for the benefit of a U.S. person if the amount is paid to or accumulated for the benefit of a U.S. person through an intermediary, such as an agent or nominee, or by any other means where a U.S. person may obtain an actual or constructive benefit.

(3) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of this paragraph (b). Unless otherwise noted, A is a resident alien. B is A's son and is a resident alien. FT is a foreign trust. The examples are as follows:

Example 1. Trust benefitting foreign corporation. A
transfers property to FT. The beneficiary of FT is FC, a foreign corporation. FC has outstanding solely 100 shares of common stock. B owns 49 shares of the FC stock and FC2, also a foreign corporation, owns the remaining 51 shares. FC2 has outstanding solely 100 shares of common stock. B owns 49 shares of FC2 and nonresident alien individuals own the remaining 51 FC2 shares. FC is a controlled foreign corporation (as defined in section 957(a), after the application of section 958(a)(2)). Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(1)(i) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 2. Trust benefitting another trust. A
transfers property to FT. The terms of FT permit current distributions of income to B. A transfers property to another foreign trust, FT2. The terms of FT2 provide that no U.S. person can benefit either as to income or corpus, but permit current distributions of income to FT. Under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary and, under paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(1)(iii) of this section, FT2 is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 3. Trust benefitting another trust after transferor's death. A
transfers property to FT. The terms of FT require that all income from FT be accumulated during A's lifetime. In the year following A's death, a share of FT is to be distributed to FT2, another foreign trust, for the benefit of B. Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(1)(iii) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary beginning with the year of A's transfer of property to FT.
Example 4. Indirect benefit through use of debit card. A
transfers property to FT. The trust instrument provides that no U.S. person can benefit either as to income or corpus. However, FT maintains an account with FB, a foreign bank, and FB issues a debit card to B against the account maintained by FT and B is allowed to make withdrawals. Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(2) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.
Example 5. Other indirect benefit. A
transfers property to FT. FT is administered by FTC, a foreign trust company. FTC forms IBC, an international business corporation formed under the laws of a foreign jurisdiction. IBC is the beneficiary of FT. IBC maintains an account with FB, a foreign bank. FB issues a debit card to B against the account maintained by IBC and B is allowed to make withdrawals. Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(2) of this section, FT is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary.

(c) Treatment of U.S. transferor upon foreign trust's acquisition or loss of U.S. beneficiary -

(1) Trusts acquiring a U.S. beneficiary. If a foreign trust to which a U.S. transferor has transferred property is not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary (within the meaning of paragraph (a) of this section) for any taxable year of the U.S. transferor, but the trust is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary (within the meaning of paragraph (a) of this section) in any subsequent taxable year, the U.S. transferor is treated as having additional income in the first such taxable year of the U.S. transferor in which the trust is treated as having a U.S. beneficiary. The amount of the additional income is equal to the trust's undistributed net income, as defined in section 665(a), at the end of the U.S. transferor's immediately preceding taxable year and is subject to the rules of section 668, providing for an interest charge on accumulation distributions from foreign trusts.

(2) Trusts ceasing to have a U.S. beneficiary. If, for any taxable year of a U.S. transferor, a foreign trust that has received a transfer of property from the U.S. transferor ceases to be treated as having a U.S. beneficiary, the U.S. transferor ceases to be treated as the owner of the portion of the trust attributable to the transfer beginning in the first taxable year following the last taxable year of the U.S. transferor during which the trust was treated as having a U.S. beneficiary (unless the U.S. transferor is treated as an owner thereof pursuant to sections 673 through 677). The U.S. transferor is treated as making a transfer of property to the foreign trust on the first day of the first taxable year following the last taxable year of the U.S. transferor during which the trust was treated as having a U.S. beneficiary. The amount of the property deemed to be transferred to the trust is the portion of the trust attributable to the prior transfer to which paragraph (a)(1) of this section applied. For rules regarding the recognition of gain on transfers to foreign trusts, see section 684.

(3) Examples. The rules of this paragraph (c) are illustrated by the following examples. A is a resident alien, B is A's son, and FT is a foreign trust. The examples are as follows:

Example 1. Trust acquiring U.S. beneficiary.
(i) In 2001, A transfers stock with a fair market value of $100,000 to FT. The stock has an adjusted basis of $50,000 at the time of the transfer. The trust instrument provides that income may be paid currently to, or accumulated for the benefit of, B and that, upon the termination of the trust, all income and corpus is to be distributed to B. At the time of the transfer, B is a nonresident alien. A is not treated as the owner of any portion of FT under sections 673 through 677. FT accumulates a total of $30,000 of income during the taxable years 2001 through 2003. In 2004, B moves to the United States and becomes a resident alien. Assume paragraph (a)(4) of this section is not applicable under the facts and circumstances.

(ii) Under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, A is treated as receiving an accumulation distribution in the amount of $30,000 in 2004 and immediately transferring that amount back to the trust. The accumulation distribution is subject to the rules of section 668, providing for an interest charge on accumulation distributions.

(iii) Under paragraphs (a)(1) and (3) of this section, beginning in 2005, A is treated as the owner of the portion of FT attributable to the stock transferred by A to FT in 2001 (which includes the portion attributable to the accumulated income deemed to be retransferred in 2004).

Example 2. Trust ceasing to have U.S. beneficiary.
(i) The facts are the same as in Example 1. In 2008, B becomes a nonresident alien. On the date B becomes a nonresident alien, the stock transferred by A to FT in 2001 has a fair market value of $125,000 and an adjusted basis of $50,000.

(ii) Under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, beginning in 2009, FT is not treated as having a U.S. beneficiary, and A is not treated as the owner of the portion of the trust attributable to the prior transfer of stock. For rules regarding the recognition of gain on the termination of ownership status, see section 684.

[T.D. 8955, 66 FR 37889, July 20, 2001]