By Jeffrey K. Eisen
On October 19, IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2017-58, announcing inflation adjustments for 2018 for dozens of important figures across the Internal Revenue Code, including the following two key numbers regarding the estate tax, gift tax and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax:
1. Gift Tax Annual Exclusion Increases to $15,000. For gifts made in 2018, the gift tax annual exclusion will be $15,000. This is the amount an individual can give to as many donees as desired in one year without using any of the donor’s estate and gift tax exemption. The best way to think about this is that a person can stand on the street corner and give $15,000 to every person who passes by, and the donor will not use any of his or her estate and gift tax exemption.
This also means that a married couple can give each donee up to $30,000 in 2018 without using either spouse’s estate and gift tax exemption amount.
The annual exclusion had been stuck at $14,000 since 2013. Even though the annual exclusion is indexed for inflation, under the Congressional version of rounding (not the one you learned in elementary school), the annual exclusion does not get rounded up to the nearest $1,000, it only gets rounded down. Thus, the inflation adjustment must actually push the annual exclusion past the next $1,000, which explains how it can take five years for the annual exclusion to increase. (more…)
By David Wheeler Newman
On September 27, the White House released a document called the “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code,” containing an outline prepared by the administration plus the senior Republican members of the tax-writing committees of Congress. The Framework is far less detailed than previous proposals for structural tax reform, but is instead described as a “template” which the authors intend for Congress to use to prepare actual legislation. This template calls for new tax rates for individuals and businesses and would create a territorial international tax system. Some key headlines:
Estate Tax. The Framework calls for a repeal of the estate tax. In announcing the tax plan, the President said that repeal would overwhelmingly help farmers and small business owners. However, most farm families are not actually affected by the estate tax, which only applies to estates valued at over $5.49 million. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center projects that estate tax of $19.95 billion will arise from Americans dying in 2017, of which about $30 million, or 00.15%, will be paid by the estates of farmers and small business owners.
The Framework would also repeal the generation skipping transfer tax. The proposal is silent on the gift tax. (more…)
By Allan B. Cutrow and Jeffrey K. Eisen
Donald Trump is now the President, and both chambers of Congress are under Republican control. Thus, we appear to be poised for potentially substantial changes in the estate tax, gift tax, generation-skipping transfer tax, and income tax laws. However, as with all other aspects of political life in America today, it is impossible to predict at this time what ultimate changes will materialize. The only clear thing is the lack of clarity.
- Is the Estate Tax History? First, there is the perpetual Republican promise, supported by the President, of “repealing” the estate tax. Last time the estate tax was “repealed” (in 2001), it really meant eight years of gradually increased exemptions and gradually decreased rates, followed by one year of repeal (2010), followed by the return of the estate tax with even greater exemptions and lower rates, which is where we are today. Will this happen again? Will the estate tax just disappear retroactive to 1/1/17 or perhaps on 1/1/18? Will deficit hawks decide that even the relatively tiny revenue generated by the estate tax is worth keeping to avoid a political fight with Democrats? (more…)
By Jacey L. Hayes
When someone inherits assets, he or she is supposed to have a tax basis in the inherited asset for income tax purposes equal to the “fair market value” of the inherited asset at the date of death. The IRS is concerned that it is losing billions of dollars due to improper basis reporting for inherited assets: that is, the executor reports the assets on the estate tax return at one value, and then when those same assets are later sold, exchanged, or transferred by the beneficiary, the beneficiary reports the basis at a higher value. To tackle this concern, all estates which file an estate tax return after July 31, 2015, also must now file, within 30 days after filing the estate tax return, new IRS Form 8971, and provide a Schedule A to each beneficiary. A beneficiary’s Schedule A must also be given to the beneficiary within the same time frame. (Note that for all estate tax returns filed between August 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016, the due date of Form 8971 was postponed to June 30, 2016, leading to a flood of recent filings.) (more…)