Earlier this year, two very different bills relating to the federal estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer (GST) taxes were introduced in the United States Senate.
On January 17, 2019, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced a bill that would reduce the federal estate, gift, and GST tax rates to a flat rate of 20%. Under current law, these transfers are subject to a progressive tax rate that maxes out at 40% for transfers in excess of $1 million (subject to the federal lifetime exemption amount of $10 million, as adjusted for inflation).
Conversely, the “For the 99.8 Percent Act,” introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on January 31, 2019, would reduce the federal estate, gift, and GST lifetime exemption amount to $3.5 million. The federal lifetime exemption amount is currently set at $10 million (adjusted for inflation to $11.4 million for 2019), and will decrease to $5 million when certain provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 sunset on December 31, 2025. In addition, the Act would raise the federal estate, gift, and GST tax rates to 45% for transfers of $3.5 million to $10 million, 50% for transfers of $10 million to $50 million, 55% on transfers of $50 million to $1 billion, and 77% on transfers in excess of $1 billion.
Although neither of these bills is likely to make it through both houses of Congress to become law, it is always worth keeping an eye on legislation that has the potential to impact your estate plan.
If you have any questions on this topic, please contact Lin Law LLC at (920) 393-1190.