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I find this statement confusing. $1,000 a total of UBTI per year in IRAs are not taxed. Over $1,000, is taxed at trust rates for the year. If it is a ROTH then there won't be double taxation. The amount over $1,000 in a TIRA would be taxed again. I don't understand how this relates to distributions from an IRA.

That may be because you copied only part of the statement. The previous sentences gave the context:

Someone will eventually have to distribute it from the IRA. If it's not the original owner of the IRA, it will be their or their spouse's heirs within 10 years of the death of the original owner. The UBTI generated from the distribution could actually exceed the value of the distribution, and it will be taxed at trust rates.

Here's a further explanation of UBTI in IRAs, and how UBTI is generated upon the liquidation distribution:

One of the reasons that MLPs are considered tax advantageous is that many of them make Return of Capital (ROC) distributions. You don't have to pay taxes on ROC distributions. When held in a taxable account, ROC results in reducing your basis, until you get to a basis of $0, at which point, the ROC is taxed as a capital gain. However, you haven't completely avoided taxes - you've only deferred them. When you sell the position from the taxable account, the ROC that reduced your basis is recaptured and taxed at ordinary income rates, up to the original basis amount. Any gain realized above the original basis will be taxed as a capital gain.

The problem is - when an MLP is held in an IRA, everything in the account is already tax deferred (or tax free if in a Roth). Because of that, there isn't any tax advantage gained from the tax deferral of ROC distributions. However, when the IRA sells the position, the ROC of distributions over the lifetime of the holding is still going to be recaptured, and will be considered UBTI. If the IRA sells the position for less than the original basis, but there was enough ROC to zero out the basis of the original position, the IRA will end up with more UBTI than the position was sold for. And UBTI generated upon the sale of the of the position is generally more than $1000 if the position has been held for a while, and/or most of the returns were considered ROC.

Many of the articles that I've seen touting holding MLPs in IRAs tend to ignore the fact that the IRA will eventually have to be distributed completely, and that the UBTI in that case is often significantly higher than the $1000 limit, even if the annual UBTI generated was much lower than $1000.

One other wrinkle with holding MLPs in an IRA is that when you die, and your IRA is passed to your heirs, the IRA doesn't die when the owner died - it just changes into an inherited IRA. Because the owner of the MLP (the IRA) didn't die, there is no possibility of avoiding the recapture by getting a step up in the basis, like there is in taxable accounts. Of course, if it's your IRA, you can avoid the recapture generated by the sale of the MLP by dying before RMDs force you to sell some/all of your MLPs. But you will just pass the recapture issue along to your (or your spouse's, if you die first) heirs, who now will only have 10 years to liquidate the IRA, due to the Secure Act. If you have a lot of MLPs in your IRA, generating all of that UBTI over just a 10 year period could result in a significant amount of taxes.

AJ
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