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Court Limits Trusts' Tax Deductions

  Tax  -   POSTED: 2008/01/16 17:02

The Supreme Court upheld limits Wednesday on income tax deductions for trusts and estates, ruling against the family that created Pepperidge Farm. The court said trusts ordinarily may not deduct the full cost of investment advice on their income tax returns. Those expenses are deductible only when they exceed 2 percent of adjusted gross income, the same limits faced by individual filers, Chief Justice John Roberts said for a unanimous court.

The case arose over a relatively small tax dispute, $4,448, involving the income tax return filed by the trust established by the will of Henry A. Rudkin, former chairman and founder of the Pepperidge Farm company.

The trust was funded with the proceeds of the sale of Pepperidge Farm to the Campbell Soup Co. The trust had $2.9 million in assets and $625,000 in income in 2000, the year of the disputed return.

The trust reported that it spent $22,241 on investment advice and deducted all of it on its tax return. The Internal Revenue Service said the expenses could be deducted only to the extent they exceeded the 2 percent floor. The discrepancy was $4,448.

The trust sued in U.S. Tax Court, which ruled for the government. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling.


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