There was a recent IRS memo from an associate chief counsel that should be shocking but actually isn’t. Promoters have for many years been hawking a “copyrighted non-grantor irrevocable complex discretionary spendthrift trust,” which purported to avoid capital gains tax. You could learn about it on TikTok. It “worked” by citing Section 643(a)(3), which excludes capital gains allocable to corpus from distributable net income. You and I both know that DNI is not taxable income, but not everybody who learns the tax law from TikTok has caught onto that subtle point yet.
Although I have never encountered anything as egregious as the “copyrighted, etc, etc, trust” I have seen a lot of problems with trusts over the years (and partnerships and SALT – don’t get me started). Much of it has to do with working under a lot of pressure. Often, the things that are wrong end up not mattering all that much, but I get a little frightened, because maybe one of these days the IRS is going to start getting its act back together. If it does, I think things may be a little shocking to practitioners who have grown up in an environment where enforcement has been progressively gutted.