Who Pays Federal Estate Tax and How Much?
With the most up-to-date data from the Internal Revenue Service based on the date of reporting1 for federal estate tax purposes,2 the difficulty in interpreting data published by IRS has taken on additional dimensions for 2010 and 2011 to the point that such information for those years has limited usefulness. The 2012 data provide the latest full-year insights since 2009 because of the repeal of the federal estate tax in 20103 (with estates making federal estate tax payments for deaths after 2009 reporting principally in 2010 and 2011). The federal estate tax data situation was further complicated by the fact that, for deaths in 2010, executors of estates were given an option to choose - (1) to apply the estate tax rate and applicable exclusion amount for 2011 with a new income tax basis at death (figured up or down as the case might be) which was attractive for those with smaller estates or (2) to elect to apply the estate tax rules for deaths in 2010 (no federal estate tax) and use the modified carryover basis rules applicable to deaths in 2010, which meant treating the property as though it had passed by gift.4 This option was favored by those with larger estates that faced significant federal estate tax liability. Thus, the year 2012 was the first year since 2009 to represent a full year of federal estate tax payments under comparable rules for the full year.