For estates and trusts, the surtax applies to the lesser of undistributed net investment income and the excess of AGI over the threshold for the highest income tax bracket ($11,950 in 2013).
With these new rules in place, the following are some of the strategies that may be used to minimize income taxes.
Shareholders that do not have a strong preference on whether distributions in 2012 are taxed as dividends or capital gain/loss may prefer sale or exchange (capital) treatment in 2012 if they: Shareholders that assume corporate liabilities or receive property subject to corporate liabilities take the liabilities into account in computing their gain or loss.
They do not increase their basis in the property received on liquidation because doing so would give them a double tax benefit.
Will Rogers has been quoted as saying “The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” Earlier this year, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which may have prevented us from falling off the fiscal cliff, but further complicated the already complex world of income taxation of estates and trusts.