As the year-end approaches, it is important to be aware of the changing tax landscape and planning opportunities it may offer you.
• As we write this, the federal estate and generation-skipping transfer (“GST”) taxes are scheduled to be reinstated on January 1, 2011, with a federal estate tax exemption of $1,000,000 and a maximum tax rate of 55%. The GST exemption will be $1,360,000. After years of benefit from a rising exemption (from $1,000,000 in 2002 to $3,500,000 in 2009) and a year of total repeal in 2010, we find ourselves once again facing higher federal estate tax rates and a limited exemption. Speculation abounds among the popular media and professionals in the field about when (or if!) Congress will act to address this important tax issue. In fact, the President just announced an agreement with Republican Congressional leaders which includes a top estate tax rate of 35% for 2011 and 2012 and a $5,000,000 exemption. Stay tuned.
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