Estate Tax Changes Past, Present and Future

McGuireWoods LLP


This outline is a selective and evolving review of the history of the modern federal estate tax. It originated during the attempts to repeal the estate tax in President Clinton’s second term and accelerated with the one-year (2010) “repeal” enacted in 2001. A discussion of current developments begins with Part XVII.D on page 106, and a discussion of currently pending and proposed developments begins with Part XVIII on page 116.


A. The World War I Era -

1. In the Revenue Act of September 8, 1916, as the United States was on the brink of entering World War I, Congress enacted the current estate tax, imposed at rates of 1 percent to 10 percent on taxable estates over $50,000. In the Act of March 3, 1917, the rates were generally increased by half, to levels of 1½ percent to 15 percent. In explaining the Senate bill, which would have doubled rates to 2 percent-20 percent, the Finance Committee said...

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