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tax topics
Estate and Gift Taxes

Estate Tax Parameters

Exemption Top Tax Rate
2001 675,000 55
2002 1,000,000 50
2003 1,000,000 49
2004 1,500,000
2005 1,500,000 47
2006 2,000,000 46
2007 2,000,000 45
2008 2,000,000 45
2009 3,500,000 45
2010 Repealed
2011 5,000,000 35
2012 5,080,000 35
2013 5,250,000 40
  • The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 set a single rate of 35 percent and a $5 million exemption (indexed for inflation after 2011) for 2011 and 2012. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) made the $5 million indexed exemption permanent for 2013 and on and raised the tax rate to 40 percent. Under pre-ATRA law, the exemption would have reverted to an unindexed $1 million in 2013 and the top statutory rate would have risen to 55 percent.
  • The passage of ATRA reduced predicted 2013 tax revenue from $37.7 billion to $14.2 billion.
    Source: Tax Policy Center Table T13-0019
  • Estates larger than $5.25 million potentially owe estate tax in 2013. Only about 1 in 700 deaths will result in a taxable estate; 99.9 percent of deaths trigger no estate tax. The estate tax will raise over $14 billion from 2,662 deaths in 2013.
    Source: Tax Policy Center Table T13-0019
  • The estate tax is the most progressive federal tax. In 2011, over 90 percent of estate taxpayers will come from the top 10 percent of the income distribution while nearly half will come from the top 1 percent. These groups pay 98 and 79 percent of estate tax revenue, respectively. Estates of people in the top 0.1 percent of the income distribution will pay more than half of all estate taxes.
    Source: Wealth Transfer Taxes: Who pays the estate tax?

For more on the estate tax, see:

Estate Taxes After ATRA, Benjamin Harris, February 25, 2013

Finally, a Permanent Estate Tax, Though Just for the Wealth Few, Roberton Williams, February 7, 2013

Give Now or Pay Later: The Ever-Changing Estate and Gift Tax, Roberton Williams, December 13, 2012

It's Not About Economic Equality, Roberton Williams, December 17, 2010

Where, Oh Where Has the Estate Tax Gone? Roberton Williams, December 23, 2009

Back from the Grave: Revenue and Distributional Effects of Reforming the Federal Estate Tax, Leonard E. Burman, Katherine Lim, Jeff Rohaly, October 20, 2008

Estate Tax Reform: A Third Option, C. Eugene Steuerle, July 18, 2005.

Options to Reform the Estate Tax, Leonard E. Burman, William G. Gale and Jeff Rohaly, March 23, 2005.

Effects of Estate Tax Reform on Charitable Giving, by Jon M. Bakija and William G. Gale, July 10, 2003.

The Estate Tax Is Down, But Not Out, by Leonard E. Burman and William G. Gale, December 1, 2001.

TPC Guide to Tables: Estate Tax Tables

All publications related to estate and gift taxes

All estimates related to estate and gift taxes

All tax facts (background data) related to estate and gift taxes