Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust

New Ruling from IRS Offers 5% Solution for CRATs

The persistently low IRS discount rates over the past five years has had a chilling effect on charitable remainder annuity trusts (CRATs). One reason is that these low rates have made 1-life CRATs unavailable for beneficiaries younger than their early 70s. Beneficiaries of 2-life CRATs must be even older. The roadblock has been the 5% probability of exhaustion test.

Charitable Remainder Trusts Considerations

Why Size Matters

A primary objective in establishing and operating any CRT is to ensure the CRT will have enough money to make the required payments to its life income beneficiary(ies) each year throughout the trust term.  Even with a low payout rate, in any given year trust income may fall short of the amount that needs to be paid.  Unless the CRT is a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) with a net-income limitation, the CRT will have to make up the difference by drawing on principal.

Generation Skipping Transfer Tax

Generation skipping transfer tax is a federal transfer tax that is assessed on an individual who transfers assets to a "skip person" during life or by will. This tax is assessed in addition to gift or estate tax. Its purpose is to prevent donors from avoiding transfer taxation in one generation by giving assets directly to the next generation.

5% Probability Test

The 5% probability test is a test described in Revenue Ruling 77-374 that requires all charitable remainder annuity trusts (CRAT) that will make payments for one or more lifetimes to have less than a 5% chance of corpus exhaustion. The test is conducted using the same facts used to compute the provisional charitable deduction for the gift.


The remainderman is the recipient of a trust's proceeds when the trust terminates.

In the context of planned giving, remainderman usually refers to the charity that will receive the final distribution from a charitable remainder trust or pooled income fund. Technically speaking, gift annuity and retained life estate gifts do not have a remainderman because the charity takes possession of the gift assets immediately.

Remainder Interest

A charity's remainder interest in a planned gift equals the present value of the promise to distribute the remaining principal of the planned gift when it terminates.

In the case of life income gifts, such as a gift annuity or a charitable remainder unitrust, the charity owns the remainder interest in the gift.  In the case of a lead trust, individuals named by the donor own the remainder interest in the gift.

Remainder Factor

The remainder factor is the fraction of the funding amount of a planned gift that is considered a charitable contribution, expressed as a decimal. The remainder factor multiplied by the funding amount equals the value of the charitable contribution.

For example, if the remainder factor for a charitable remainder unitrust is .24561 and the unitrust is funded with $100,000, the value of the charitable contribution is .24561 x $100,000 or $24,561.

Publication 1457

Publication 1457 is a book of federal tables used to compute charitable remainder annuity trust and gift annuity deductions and pooled income fund deductions. The edition that contains tables based on Table2000CM is called Actuarial Values, Book 3A. It is available on the Web. The edition that contains tables based on Table 90CM is called Actuarial Values, Book Aleph. The edition that contains tables based on Table 80CNSMT is called Actuarial Values, Book Alpha.