March 6, 2008 02:02 PM | Permalink |
The federal estate tax continues to have no effect on the vast majority of Americans. The most recent figures released from the IRS, combined with data on deaths in each state from the Center for Disease Control, show that less than one percent of deaths result in estate tax liability under the tax rules currently in effect.
Under the Bush tax cuts, those rules are scheduled to change to allow even more estates to escape the tax. In 2004 and 2005 estates worth up to $1.5 million (or $3 million for estates owned by a married couple) were exempt from the estate tax. (Most of the estates listed below were subject to that exemption.) Since then, the exemption has increased to $2 million ($4 million for married couples) and in 2009 the exemption will increase to $3.5 million ($7 million for married couples). In 2010 the estate tax will disappear entirely. After 2010 all the Bush tax breaks expire, including this generous treatment of estates. Some lawmakers want to make permanent the complete repeal of the estate tax, which would cost over a trillion dollars over a decade and clearly benefit only the very wealthiest families in America.