This article continues a series of articles concerning the constructive ownership rules of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §318. Today’s focus is on the §318 upstream estate attribution rules.
§318 Estate Attribution Rules: Downstream Attribution vs. Upstream Attribution
There are two types of the IRC §318 estate attribution rules: downstream and upstream. In a previous article, I discussed the downstream attribution rules concerning attribution of ownership of corporate stocks held by an estate to its beneficiaries. This brief article focuses on the upstream attribution rules, which means rules governing the attribution to the estate of corporate stocks held by its beneficiaries.
§318 Upstream Estate Attribution: Main Rule
The IRC §318(a)(3)(A) states the general rule for the upstream estate attribution of beneficiaries’ corporate stock: irrespective of the proportion of his beneficiary interest in the estate, all corporate stocks owned directly or indirectly by a beneficiary are deemed to be owned by the estate.
Notice the difference here between the downstream and the upstream estate attribution rules. §318 downstream estate attribution rules attribute the ownership of corporate stock proportionately from an estate to its beneficiaries. The upstream attribution rules under §318, however, completely disregard the proportionality rule; instead, all of the stocks of a beneficiary are attributed to the estate even if he has only 1% interest in the estate.
For example, let’s suppose that W owns 100 shares in corporation X; then, H dies and leaves one-tenth of his property to W. Due to the fact that W is a beneficiary of H’s estate, the estate constructively owns all of W’s 100 shares in X.
§318 Upstream Estate Attribution: No Re-Attribution
I already stated this rule in another article on estate attribution, but it is also important to re-state it here. §318 estate attribution rules contain a prohibition on re-attribution of stocks. Under §318(a)(5)(C), a beneficiary’s stock constructively owned by an estate through the operation of the §318 estate attribution rules cannot be attributed to another beneficiary.
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