The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
The House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would reduce the number of taxable estates by about two-thirds in 2018, and save the heirs of a few thousand wealthy decedents almost $7 billion dollars, according to new estimates by the Tax Policy Center. Next year, only about 1,700 estates would owe federal estate tax under either bill.
Currently, the first $5.49 million in assets (nearly $11 million for couples) are exempt from the estate tax. As a result, only about 5,500 estates pay the tax, representing about 0.2 percent of all deaths in the US. Both versions of the TCJA would roughly double the exemption to $11.18 million ($22.4 million for couples) in 2018. Starting in 2018, they'd index the exemption for inflation using the less generous chained CPI that would also apply to the individual income tax. After 2024, the House bill would repeal the tax entirely. After 2025, the Senate bill would revert to a $5 million exemption, indexed for inflation.
Whatever Congress decides to do with the estate tax in the long run, the immediate effects would be significant for the handful of high-value estates now subject to the tax. TPC estimates that under either the House or Senate bill, the number of estates subject to the federal estate tax in 2018 would fall from about 5,500 to just 1,700, equal to less than 0.1 percent of all deaths. And the amount of estate tax they’d owe next year would shrink from $20.4 billion to $13.6 billion.
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