26 CFR § 301.7701-4 - Trusts.
(a) Ordinary trusts. In general, the term “trust” as used in the Internal Revenue Code refers to an arrangement created either by a will or by an inter vivos declaration whereby trustees take title to property for the purpose of protecting or conserving it for the beneficiaries under the ordinary rules applied in chancery or probate courts. Usually the beneficiaries of such a trust do no more than accept the benefits thereof and are not the voluntary planners or creators of the trust arrangement. However, the beneficiaries of such a trust may be the persons who create it and it will be recognized as a trust under the Internal Revenue Code if it was created for the purpose of protecting or conserving the trust property for beneficiaries who stand in the same relation to the trust as they would if the trust had been created by others for them. Generally speaking, an arrangement will be treated as a trust under the Internal Revenue Code if it can be shown that the purpose of the arrangement is to vest in trustees responsibility for the protection and conservation of property for beneficiaries who cannot share in the discharge of this responsibility and, therefore, are not associates in a joint enterprise for the conduct of business for profit.
(b) Business trusts. There are other arrangements which are known as trusts because the legal title to property is conveyed to trustees for the benefit of beneficiaries, but which are not classified as trusts for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code because they are not simply arrangements to protect or conserve the property for the beneficiaries. These trusts, which are often known as business or commercial trusts, generally are created by the beneficiaries simply as a device to carry on a profit-making business which normally would have been carried on through business organizations that are classified as corporations or partnerships under the Internal Revenue Code. However, the fact that the corpus of the trust is not supplied by the beneficiaries is not sufficient reason in itself for classifying the arrangement as an ordinary trust rather than as an association or partnership. The fact that any organization is technically cast in the trust form, by conveying title to property to trustees for the benefit of persons designated as beneficiaries, will not change the real character of the organization if the organization is more properly classified as a business entity under § 301.7701-2.
(c) Certain investment trusts - (1) An “investment” trust will not be classified as a trust if there is a power under the trust agreement to vary the investment of the certificate holders. See Commissioner v. North American Bond Trust, 122 F. 2d 545 (2d Cir. 1941), cert. denied, 314 U.S. 701 (1942). An investment trust with a single class of ownership interests, representing undivided beneficial interests in the assets of the trust, will be classified as a trust if there is no power under the trust agreement to vary the investment of the certificate holders. An investment trust with multiple classes of ownership interests ordinarily will be classified as a business entity under § 301.7701-2; however, an investment trust with multiple classes of ownership interests, in which there is no power under the trust agreement to vary the investment of the certificate holders, will be classified as a trust if the trust is formed to facilitate direct investment in the assets of the trust and the existence of multiple classes of ownership interests is incidental to that purpose.
(2) The provisions of paragraph (c)(1) of this section may be illustated by the following examples:
(d) Liquidating trusts. Certain organizations which are commonly known as liquidating trusts are treated as trusts for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code. An organization will be considered a liquidating trust if it is organized for the primary purpose of liquidating and distributing the assets transferred to it, and if its activities are all reasonably necessary to, and consistent with, the accomplishment of that purpose. A liquidating trust is treated as a trust for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code because it is formed with the objective of liquidating particular assets and not as an organization having as its purpose the carrying on of a profit-making business which normally would be conducted through business organizations classified as corporations or partnerships. However, if the liquidation is unreasonably prolonged or if the liquidation purpose becomes so obscured by business activities that the declared purpose of liquidation can be said to be lost or abandoned, the status of the organization will no longer be that of a liquidating trust. Bondholders' protective committees, voting trusts, and other agencies formed to protect the interests of security holders during insolvency, bankruptcy, or corporate reorganization proceedings are analogous to liquidating trusts but if subsequently utilized to further the control or profitable operation of a going business on a permanent continuing basis, they will lose their classification as trusts for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code.
(e) Environmental remediation trusts.
(1) An environmental remediation trust is considered a trust for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code. For purposes of this paragraph (e), an organization is an environmental remediation trust if the organization is organized under state law as a trust; the primary purpose of the trust is collecting and disbursing amounts for environmental remediation of an existing waste site to resolve, satisfy, mitigate, address, or prevent the liability or potential liability of persons imposed by federal, state, or local environmental laws; all contributors to the trust have (at the time of contribution and thereafter) actual or potential liability or a reasonable expectation of liability under federal, state, or local environmental laws for environmental remediation of the waste site; and the trust is not a qualified settlement fund within the meaning of § 1.468B-1(a) of this chapter. An environmental remediation trust is classified as a trust because its primary purpose is environmental remediation of an existing waste site and not the carrying on of a profit-making business that normally would be conducted through business organizations classified as corporations or partnerships. However, if the remedial purpose is altered or becomes so obscured by business or investment activities that the declared remedial purpose is no longer controlling, the organization will no longer be classified as a trust. For purposes of this paragraph (e), environmental remediation includes the costs of assessing environmental conditions, remedying and removing environmental contamination, monitoring remedial activities and the release of substances, preventing future releases of substances, and collecting amounts from persons liable or potentially liable for the costs of these activities. For purposes of this paragraph (e), persons have potential liability or a reasonable expectation of liability under federal, state, or local environmental laws for remediation of the existing waste site if there is authority under a federal, state, or local law that requires or could reasonably be expected to require such persons to satisfy all or a portion of the costs of the environmental remediation.
(2) Each contributor (grantor) to the trust is treated as the owner of the portion of the trust contributed by that grantor under rules provided in section 677 and § 1.677(a)-1(d) of this chapter. Section 677 and § 1.677(a)-1(d) of this chapter provide rules regarding the treatment of a grantor as the owner of a portion of a trust applied in discharge of the grantor's legal obligation. Items of income, deduction, and credit attributable to an environmental remediation trust are not reported by the trust on Form 1041, but are shown on a separate statement to be attached to that form. See § 1.671-4(a) of this chapter. The trustee must also furnish to each grantor a statement that shows all items of income, deduction, and credit of the trust for the grantor's taxable year attributable to the portion of the trust treated as owned by the grantor. The statement must provide the grantor with the information necessary to take the items into account in computing the grantor's taxable income, including information necessary to determine the federal tax treatment of the items (for example, whether an item is a deductible expense under section 162(a) or a capital expenditure under section 263(a)) and how the item should be taken into account under the economic performance rules of section 461(h) and the regulations thereunder. See § 1.461-4 of this chapter for rules relating to economic performance.
(3) All amounts contributed to an environmental remediation trust by a grantor (cash-out grantor) who, pursuant to an agreement with the other grantors, contributes a fixed amount to the trust and is relieved by the other grantors of any further obligation to make contributions to the trust, but remains liable or potentially liable under the applicable environmental laws, will be considered amounts contributed for remediation. An environmental remediation trust agreement may direct the trustee to expend amounts contributed by a cash-out grantor (and the earnings thereon) before expending amounts contributed by other grantors (and the earnings thereon). A cash-out grantor will cease to be treated as an owner of a portion of the trust when the grantor's portion is fully expended by the trust.
(4) The provisions of this paragraph (e) may be illustrated by the following example:
(b) The estimated cost of the remediation is $20,000,000. X, Y, and Z agree that, if Z contributes $1,000,000 to the trust, Z will not be required to make any additional contributions to the trust, and X and Y will complete the remediation of the waste site and make additional contributions if necessary.
(c) On June 1, 1996, X, Y, and Z each contribute $1,000,000 to the trust. The trust agreement directs the trustee to spend Z's contributions to the trust and the income allocable to Z's portion before spending X's and Y's portions. On November 30, 1996, the trustee disburses $2,000,000 for remediation work performed from June 1, 1996, through September 30, 1996. For the six-month period ending November 30, 1996, the interest earned on the funds in the trust was $75,000, which is allocated in equal shares of $25,000 to X's, Y's, and Z's portions of the trust.
(d) Z made no further contributions to the trust. Pursuant to the trust agreement, the trustee expended Z's portion of the trust before expending X's and Y's portion. Therefore, Z's share of the remediation disbursement made in 1996 is $1,025,000 ($1,000,000 contribution by Z plus $25,000 of interest allocated to Z's portion of the trust). Z takes the $1,025,000 disbursement into account under the appropriate federal tax accounting rules. In addition, X's share of the remediation disbursement made in 1996 is $487,500, and Y's share of the remediation disbursement made in 1996 is $487,500. X and Y take their respective shares of the disbursement into account under the appropriate federal tax accounting rules.
(e) The trustee made no further remediation disbursements in 1996, and X and Y made no further contributions in 1996. From December 1, 1996, to December 31, 1996, the interest earned on the funds remaining in the trust was $5,000, which is allocated $2,500 to X's portion and $2,500 to Y's portion. Accordingly, for 1996, X and Y each had interest income of $27,500 from the trust and Z had interest income of $25,000 from the trust.
(5) This paragraph (e) is applicable to trusts meeting the requirements of paragraph (e)(1) of this section that are formed on or after May 1, 1996. This paragraph (e) may be relied on by trusts formed before May 1, 1996, if the trust has at all times met all requirements of this paragraph (e) and the grantors have reported items of ,income and deduction consistent with this paragraph (e) on original or amended returns. For trusts formed before May 1, 1996, that are not described in the preceding sentence, the Commissioner may permit by letter ruling, in appropriate circumstances, this paragraph (e) to be applied subject to appropriate terms and conditions.
(f) Effective date. The rules of this section generally apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 1960. Paragraph (e)(5) of this section contains rules of applicability for paragraph (e) of this section. In addition, the last sentences of paragraphs (b), (c)(1), and (c)(2) Example 1 and Example 3 of this section are effective as of January 1, 1997.