A settlement trust can provide a broad range of benefits to its beneficiaries, including shareholder distributions, burial assistance, training and internships, cultural programs and other activities.
Provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law December 2017, made it possible for Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) to place assets in a settlement trust on an effectively pre-tax basis. Former CIRI president and CEO Carl Marrs, now CEO of Old Harbor Native Corp., was instrumental in ensuring provisions for ANC settlement trusts were included in the new tax laws.
Because of the new tax benefits, many Alaska Native regional and village corporations have established or are in the process of establishing settlement trusts. CIRI began exploring the possibility of establishing a new settlement trust last summer as well. Specific to the CIRI Settlement Trust (CST), benefits to both shareholders and the corporation include:
- Distributions from the Trust to shareholders are expected to be tax free.
- The Board proposes to provide Elders’ benefits after 2019 through the CST, maintaining the current level of payments and eligibility requirements of the CIRI Elders’ Settlement Trust.
- Significantly reduces CIRI’s current and future federal income tax liability. This means the company will have more money to fund benefits for shareholders and descendants and to reinvest and continue to grow the company.
At the 2019 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, held June 1 in Puyallup, Wash., CIRI shareholders voted overwhelmingly (89.8% of shares present or represented by proxy) to establish the CST.
What’s happening now?
The Board of Trustees—comprised of the chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer and chair emeritus of the CIRI Board of Directors— has held its first meeting and steps are being taken to implement the CST. CIRI will provide administrative services for the CST to account for Trust assets and distributions and identify and communicate with beneficiaries.
What do shareholders need to do?
Shareholders do not need to do anything except ensure their stock records are current (e.g., mailing addresses, direct deposit information, name changes, etc.). Distributions from the CST will be processed in the same manner as they have been—by mail or direct deposit using address or account information on file with the CIRI Shareholder Relations department.
Shareholders may access the Qenek portal at http://qenek.ciri.com to make certain record changes, and forms and information are also available on the CIRI website. If you have any questions about keeping your stock records current, contact Shareholder Relations at (907) 263-5191 or toll free (800) 764-2474.