House Democrats proposed a change to the estate tax that would lead to more households having to pay up each year.
But just how many people actually pay the tax, and how might the proposal change that share?
The short answers: Few people pay it now, and the share wouldn’t grow by much.
“It’s a tiny fraction of decedents who pay any estate tax at all,” said Beth Shapiro Kaufman, an estate planner at the law firm Caplin & Drysdale.
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The estate tax, which is owed at death, is a tax on wealth transfer. Taxes are levied on cumulative property like stock and real estate valued over a certain level before they’re passed to heirs.
Lawmakers created the federal estate tax in 1916. Since then, Congress has changed elements like the tax rate and estate size at which the tax applies.
Currently, a 40% federal tax applies to estate values exceeding $11.7 million for single individuals and $23.4 million for married couples.
There were 6,409 estate tax returns filed in 2019, according to IRS data. About 40% of them (2,570 returns) were taxable. They owed $13.2 billion in net estate tax.
Publicly held stock accounted for the biggest portion of property held by taxable estates. It represented $23 billion, or 30%, of taxable estates.