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Estate and Gift Taxes

 

What is an estate tax?

As estate tax is a tax imposed by the federal government and by some state governments on the value of property that passes from a person who dies (referred to as a decedent) to the decedent's beneficiaries by reason of his or her death. The tax is imposed on the estate, not on the individual beneficiaries.

What is an inheritance tax?

An inheritance tax is similar to an estate tax, except that the tax is imposed on each beneficiary who inherits property instead of being imposed on the estate. The U.S. Government has an estate tax, not an inheritance tax. Massachusetts and Rhode Island each have an estate tax, not in inheritance tax.

What is a gift tax?

A gift tax is a tax imposed by the federal government on the value of property that a person gives to his or her beneficiaries while he or she is living. Massachusetts and Rhode Island do not have a gift tax.

What is a Generation Skipping Transfer Tax?

A generation skipping transfer (GST) tax is a federal estate or gift tax imposed when a decedent leaves property to his or her beneficiaries in a manner that skips one generation. For example, a gift to a grandchild may constitute a generation skipping transfer.

What is an estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax exemption?

An estate tax exemption is the total amount of funds and property that a decedent can leave to his or her beneficiaries without incurring an estate tax. A gift tax exemption is the total amount of funds and property a person can give to his or her beneficiaries while living without incurring a federal gift tax. Gifts made during life that exceed the $14,000 per donee annual federal gift tax exclusion reduce the amount of estate tax exemption available at death. A generation skipping transfer tax exemption is the amount of funds and property a person can transfer during life or after death without incurring a federal generation skipping transfer tax. 

What are the current 2017 federal and Massachusetts estate tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions and tax rates?

2017 Unified Federal Estate, Gift and Generation Skipping Transfer Tax Exemption for U.S. Citizens and Residents: $5,490,000.

This exemption is reduced by lifetime gifts in excess of an annual exclusion.

2017 Federal Estate, Gift and GST Tax Rate on the value of an estate that exceeds the exemption: 40%

2017 Massachusetts Estate Tax Exemption: $1,000,000

This exemption is reduced by lifetime gifts in excess of the federal gift tax annual exclusion.

2017 Massachusetts Estate Tax Rates: 0.8% to 16% depending on the value of the estate. Unlike the federal estate tax, the Massachusetts estate tax is imposed on the entire value of the estate if the exemption is exceeded.

2017 Federal Gift Tax per Donee Annual Exclusion for U.S. Citizens and Residents: $14,000

This is the aggregate amount of gifts that can be made during each calendar year to a person without using part of the $5,490,000 lifetime federal estate, gift and GSTT tax exemption.

2017 Federal Estate and Gift Tax Marital Deduction for U.S. Citizens: Unlimited

2017 Federal Estate and Gift Tax Charitable Deduction: Unlimited

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