Wednesday, July 28, 2010

George Steinbrenner's First Class Tax Moves Against the Estate Tax

Not only did George Steinbrenner die in the best year possible from an estate tax perspective, since there is no estate tax this year, but he plotted a move so that if Congress attempts to retroactively institute one for this year, he will be years ahead of Congress.

NyPo has the details:

Where there's a will, there's a way -- to keep George Steinbrenner's millions all in the family.

In his last will and testament, a copy of which was obtained by The Post yesterday, the legendary Yankee owner went to great lengths to keep the taxman at bay.

The Boss' will stipulates that an undisclosed portion of his estimated $1.1 billion sports, shipping and racehorse-breeding fortune will go into a trust for his widow, Joan, 74.

And it assigns Steinbrenner's lawyer, Robert Banker, to decide whether that trust pays federal estate tax for this year, or not until after Joan Steinbrenner dies.

DODGER BALL: George Steinbrenner's will stipulates that a trust set up for his wife, Joan, can defer a decision on when to pay federal estate taxes.
 Although there currently is no federal estate tax for 2010, that could change if Congress acts to close the loophole and enacts such a tax retroactively, putting Steinbrenner's estate on the hook for $500 million or more. But under the law, Banker would have nine months from Steinbrenner's July 13 death to decide if the estate should pay estimated estate tax for a 2010 filing -- or at the rate in effect whenever Joan dies. Banker can take another six months before deciding to make that move permanent. "That would give him maximum flexibility to deal with the estate tax," said Peter Valente, a top estate lawyer at the Blank Rome firm. "They have a lot of time to deal with this." Valente said that because Banker will not have to decide until after Congress acts -- or fails to act -- on the estate-tax question, he will have a clearer picture of what each scenario would cost The Boss' estate.

If Congress never acts to close that loophole, then there would be no estate tax ever owed by Joan or any of the other beneficiaries

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