The IRS announced the publication of Revenue Procedure 2011-56, which provides Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) trust guidance. Under IGRA, an Indian tribe may make per capita payments to tribal members from gaming revenues if the interests of minors and other legally incompetent persons who are entitled to receive the per capita payments are protected and preserved. Indian tribes frequently use trusts to maintain and preserve the minor and incompetent members’ interests (IGRA trusts).
In 2003, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2003-14, which provided safe harbor requirements for IGRA trusts. IGRA trusts meeting these requirements are treated as tribally-owned grantor trusts, and the per capita payments or trust earnings are not included in the beneficiaries’ incomes until actually or constructively received.
In addition to providing a safe harbor, Revenue Procedure 2003-14 sought public comments on the safe harbor requirements. After receiving and considering numerous comments, the IRS published Revenue Procedure 2011-56. The revenue procedure:
- clarifies that an IGRA trust must be an ordinary trust (pursuant to 26 C.F.R. §301.7701-4(a)) for federal tax law purposes
- clarifies that trustees may make staggered distributions to beneficiaries at different ages or upon the occurrence of specific events rather than distributing all the trust assets when the beneficiary attains a specified age
- eliminates the references to federal and local trust law, as the validity of trusts is governed by state or tribal law
- broadens the class of survivors who may inherit a beneficiary’s trust interest
- modifies the trustee discretion provisions for making health and welfare distributions
Revenue Procedure 2011-56 supersedes Revenue Procedure 2003-14.
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