Estate Tax Changes Past, Present, and Future (Updated)

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 recent, pending, and proposed developments begins with Part XIX on page 129.


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.

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