Estate Tax Turns 100

The Estate Tax was put in place in 1916 to raise revenue to finance World War I. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Laura Saunders explains how this tax started as a levy with a top rate of 10% and an exemption of $50,000 (about $1,000,000 in current dollars) and today has a top rate of 40% and an exemption of $5.45 million.

The Estate Tax has never affected many people, often only affecting 2% of individuals who die each year. Also, the Estate Tax can be reduced or eliminated by putting in place planning techniques, such as gifting up to $14,000 each year to as many relatives and friends as one would like to reduce the estate size at death.

Proponents of the Estate Tax point to the goal it seeks to achieve of limiting concentrations of wealth. Opponents of the tax claim that it damages the nation’s economy by forcing sales of assets at depressed prices.

Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.