April 15th is almost here and almost everyone is dealing with tax filings. When a loved one passes away you not only have to worry about filing their income tax return, but you also have to determine whether they owe estate taxes. To make it more confusing, estate tax filings are not due on April 15th - they are due 9 months from the date of death. So now that you know WHEN estate taxes are due, how do you know IF estate taxes are due?
Federal estate taxes will be due if a single decedent passed away in 2017 with over $5.49 million dollars and the tax rate will be a whooping 40%! This is a bit oversimplified, but Federal estate taxes are estimated to only impact about 1 in every 517 people in the year 2017 (amounting to $19.7 billion dollars).
State estate taxes are applicable in 14 states and the District of Columbia for 2017, with states like New Jersey set to repeal it effective January 1, 2018. In Massachusetts, decedents who pass away with over $1 million dollars are subject to a progressive tax rate between 0 and 16% as demonstrated below. To figure out the value of the decedent's estate you have to add the value of all their assets, including, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts/benefits, real estate, business interests, motor vehicles, personal belongings, life insurance, annuities, and certain assets that were given away or gifted during their lifetime.