14 December 2010

More Detail On Estate Tax Deal

The tax legislation that survived a cloture vote in the U.S. Senate yesterday makes clear some details of the (near and dear to my heart as a lawyer for whom a substantial portion of his practice is tax conscious estate planning):

Via RIA (a tax publisher):

The 2010 Tax Reform Act sets the exemption at $5 million per person and $10 million per couple and provides for a top tax rate of 35% for estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer taxes through 2012. The exemption amount will be indexed beginning in 2012.

The changes will be effective Jan. 1, 2010, but executors will be allowed to make an election to choose no estate tax and modified carryover basis for estates arising on or after Jan. 1, 2010 and before Jan. 1, 2011. Also, a $5 million generation-skipping transfer tax exemption and zero percent rate will apply for the 2010 year.

Effective for estates of decedents dying after Dec. 31, 2010, the 2010 Reform Act will allow the executor of a deceased spouse's estate to transfer any unused exemption to the surviving spouse.

For gifts made after Dec. 31, 2010, estate and gift taxes will be reunified [i.e. the gift tax exemption will go from the $1,000,000 per lifetime per person it has been under EGRTTA to $5,000,000.]

Despite the indexing provision, presumably there for convenience purposes only in the event that this is extended or made permanent, it appear that the gift and estate tax exemptions will revert to $1,000,000, and the rates will return to graduated rates from 37% to 55% with a bubble rate of 60% in 2013, if the law is not extended.

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