As we allow the impact of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 to set in, some of the finer details are starting to come into focus. The big news involved the changes to the estate exclusion and the rate of the tax. Rather than the anticipated $1 million exclusion and 55% maximum rate, the passage of this legislation has raised the estate tax exclusion up to $5 million and reduced the rate to 35%.
There are still those who feel as though a 35% federal levy on money you have left over after paying income tax is an unfair instance of excessive double taxation. But these changes are improvements over past parameters and any tax relief is better than no tax relief.
Aside from the headline news, as it were, there were some additional provisions included in the tax relief bill that impact estate planning. For one, the estate tax exclusion is now portable between husband and wife. Previously, if you were to pass away without using all of your estate tax exclusion, your surviving spouse could not use it. But going forward in 2011 and 2012, the exclusion is going to be portable, so the surviving spouse could have a $10 million estate tax exclusion to work with.
There has also been an increase in the lifetime gift tax exemption. It had previously been $1 million, but it has been raised to $5 million and the rate of taxation is going to be 35% to go along with the estate tax (with which it is unified). In addition, the generation skipping transfer tax is following suit. It, too, will carry a $5 million exemption along with a 35% rate.
Saul Kobrick is an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New York and the owner and founder of The Law Offices of Saul Kobrick, P.C. For more information on estate planning and other estate planning services, visit his website.