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Possible future elimination of step up basis
Old 11-21-2020, 09:19 AM   #1
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Possible future elimination of step up basis

As I am sure most know, the future may hold a change in the tax code eliminating the step up in cost basis for inherited assets. This would obviously affect any heirs inheriting those assets. In our case our children.

Wonder how one might prepare or change one's portfolio to preserve this benefit? Any loopholes? We have ( as I am sure many do) etf's and mutual funds in taxable accounts that have appreciated substantially over the years.
If we sell while alive, we pay the gains while alive. After death, the kids will pay and they will need good records of deceased parent's cost basis.

Any thoughts?
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:25 AM   #2
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A couple things.

If your income is low enough, LTCG are taxed at 0%. The limit for a married couple for 2020 is taxable income of $80,000, which equates to $107,400 for a married couple over 65 after you add in the standard deduction.... and another $300 to that if you do charitable contributions. So if you have headroom there you can gains trade a little each year.

Another option if would be to do charitable contributions with appreciated securities rather than cash.
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:31 AM   #3
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I think about this as my mom and dad purchased a home in what is now a very HCOL area 50 years ago. Our step up as heirs will be huge. Not really sure if there is anything to do so I will be curious what is posted.

Of course, an idea in a tax plan doesnít mean it will happen. It will also depend if the senate stays republican or changes to a democratic majority.
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:35 AM   #4
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The stepped-up basis has always been a very odd part of the tax code. I can clearly see a stepped-up basis for inherited assets where the decedent's estate has paid estate taxes in that they have paid the tax and therefore get the stepped up basis. But for stiuations where there is no estate tax paid it seems like an unjustifiable freebie to heirs to me.
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:48 AM   #5
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I think about this as my mom and dad purchased a home in what is now a very HCOL area 50 years ago. Our step up as heirs will be huge. Not really sure if there is anything to do so I will be curious what is posted. ...
IF stepped up basis went away, I wonder if the heirs could "buy" the home from mom and dad with seller financing and then mom and dad elect out of installment sale treatment and take advantage of the sale of residence gain exclusion.

Simultaneously, the "buyers" would execute a long-term lease for the home to mom and dad at a fair value rent. The seller financing payments due from the buyers to the sellers and the rent due from the sellers to the buyers would largely offset... and any difference could be an annual gift from one party to the other.
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PandaBear View Post
I think about this as my mom and dad purchased a home in what is now a very HCOL area 50 years ago. Our step up as heirs will be huge. Not really sure if there is anything to do so I will be curious what is posted.

Of course, an idea in a tax plan doesn’t mean it will happen. It will also depend if the senate stays republican or changes to a democratic majority.
(Just my random thoughts)

If your parents sold the house to you, the first $500,000 in profits would be tax free to them.

I do wonder, does this great exemption get lost if they both died and the house was inherited by heirs ?

Could they "sell" the house to their own trust or LLC to absorb the exemption and raise the basis of the house for when the LLC sells the house to distribute to heirs.

<edit: both pbuski and I posted at the same time>
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Old 11-21-2020, 09:51 AM   #7
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Letís please keep politics out of the discusssion.
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Old 11-21-2020, 10:00 AM   #8
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Letís please keep politics out of the discusssion.


My apologies.
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Old 11-21-2020, 02:26 PM   #9
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This is not proposed legislation at this point, and I seriously doubt it can become law.

But brokers track basis now. I do not see that as a hurdle there. With homes I would expect you would continue some favorable treatment for personal residences. For investments perhaps not.

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Old 11-23-2020, 01:31 PM   #10
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This has been proposed for at least 50 years and fortunately has never been enacted, or never permanently enacted. I remember calculating the value of my father's portfolio in the mid '70's because that was supposed to be the starting date (I believe 12/31/76) for legislation that was passed at that time and eventually repealed.



The argument against it has always been that the present system gives a fresh start for many individuals who do not even know their basis. Also, the classic objection has always been with an asset such as a coin collection where each individual coin has its own basis but with the impossible task of determining that basis. I believe that if it is ever enacted there will be a starting date whereby you would be taxed on the gain from the starting date to the date of sale. I believe this is the system in Canada. Let's hope it's never enacted here.


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Old 11-23-2020, 01:53 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
The stepped-up basis has always been a very odd part of the tax code. I can clearly see a stepped-up basis for inherited assets where the decedent's estate has paid estate taxes in that they have paid the tax and therefore get the stepped up basis. But for stiuations where there is no estate tax paid it seems like an unjustifiable freebie to heirs to me.
I agree with you that this has always been an unjustifiable freebie to heirs. Also, there has been talk of doing away with the 1031 exchanges, but there have been warnings that this move would crater the commercial real estate market.
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Old 11-23-2020, 02:43 PM   #12
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I agree with you that this has always been an unjustifiable freebie to heirs. Also, there has been talk of doing away with the 1031 exchanges, but there have been warnings that this move would crater the commercial real estate market.
Don't forget at one time all estates over $60,000 were subject to estate tax. The stepup was designed to somewhat offset the estate tax that was paid on those assets. Also, repeal would create a huge administrative problem and record keeping task for taxpayers.
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:02 PM   #13
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...Also, repeal would create a huge administrative problem and record keeping task for taxpayers.
Gill

How would that be? For most assets the taxpayer is already supposed to keep track of their basis right now. If step up were eliminated it wouldn;t be any different than if they received the asset as a gift... and people seem to deal with that ok now.
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:50 PM   #14
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How would that be? For most assets the taxpayer is already supposed to keep track of their basis right now. If step up were eliminated it wouldn;t be any different than if they received the asset as a gift... and people seem to deal with that ok now.

I can tell you that people don't deal with it now. It's very common for people to have no idea what their basis is on their holdings. In an estate, the personal representative is tasked with determining basis when the decedent didn't have adequate records. Furthermore, we're not just talking about securities. This would apply to real estate and assets such as coin and stamp collections. Each individual coin and stamp has its own basis. I've administered hundreds of estates and I assure you I would have found in most estates it would be very difficult to determine the decedent's basis in his assets.

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Old 11-23-2020, 03:55 PM   #15
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Letís keep in mind this is not legislation under consideration. Itís not even a legislative proposal. If it ever reaches that stage, it should then have enough detail to discuss, and worry about implementation and impact.
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:00 PM   #16
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Gill... I believe you. I said deal with it... not easily deal with it.

I was guardian for my great aunt and liquidated her portfolio in anticipation of needing the money for her nursing home costs and determining basis was definitely a challenge.

I wonder if people would be more serious about doing better recordkeeping if stepped up basis wasn't available and they became "scared" that much of ther legacy to heirs would ultimately go to the government in taxes if they didn't keep good records.
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Old 11-23-2020, 05:22 PM   #17
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I don't think it would be all bad. I see so many older people holding onto assets that they could sell to their children but won't because they're waiting to give it to them when they die to get the stepped up basis ( and avoid paying capital gains taxes, which are super low.) I see this a lot with farmers and business owners, they just won't sell their farm or business when they're alive. The trouble is they often live into their 90's and their kids who worked in the family business are in their 60's or even 70's and haven't gotten to buy in yet because dad won't sell. If these laws ever do change you might see some life insurance products become more attractive.
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