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Item of Interest

The Department of Treasury has proposed new rules that would dramatically restrict how small businesses can pass on shares of family-owned businesses to their heirs. At issue is whether family businesses should be valued in the same manner as every other business, or in an alternative manner that artificially inflates what they are taxed on above fair market value. The proposed regulations under Section 2704 target family businesses for higher estate and gift taxes, merely for being family-owned businesses. They would raise these taxes by largely eliminating the consideration of lack of control and lack of marketability when determining the fair market value of an interest in a family owned business, but only when that interest is passed on to a member of the family. Lack of control and lack of marketability are real economic factors that can reduce the fair market value of an asset by a sizable amount, so the proposed rules would have the effect of increasing the applicable estate and gift taxes by 30 percent or more.

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