The Tax Man Cometh…A Recap


The IRS has released its “Estate Tax Returns Filed for Wealthy Decedents, 2003–2012” statics report.  PK Law thought our readers would find some of the statistics enlightening.

The Federal estate tax is a tax on the transfer property at death. It is applied to estates for which at-death gross assets, the “gross estate,” exceed the filing threshold.

Estate tax returns are due 9 months from the date of death and most are filed in the following calendar year.

Charitable bequests and marital transfers can be taken as deductions when calculating estate tax liability.

Highlights of the 2012 Data:

  • The number of estate tax returns declined 87 percent from about 73,100 in 2003 to about 9,400 in 2012 primarily due to the gradual increase in the filing threshold.
  • The gross estate filing threshold was $5.12 million in2012, up from $1.0 million in 2003. (In 2014 the Federal filing threshold is $5,340,000, up from $5,250,000 for gifts made and estates of decedents dying in 2013.  The Maryland filing threshold for estates remains at $1,000,000.  The Federal gift tax per done annual exclusion remains at $14,000.  Maryland does not impose a gift tax.)
  • In 2012, the total net estate tax reported on all estate tax returns filed for the year was $8.5 billion.
  • California had the highest number of estate tax returns filed in 2012, followed by Florida, New York, Texas, and Illinois.
  • Looking at the number of estate tax returns filed as a percentage of the adult population (ages 18 and over), the top five states were the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Florida, California, and New York.
  • Stock and real estate made up about half of all estate tax decedents’ asset holdings in 2012.
  • Estate tax decedents with total assets of $20 million or more held a greater share of their portfolio in stocks (about 40 percent) and lesser shares in real estate and retirement assets than decedents in other total asset categories.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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