Happily, 2014 continues to bring stability in the federal estate, gift and generation skipping taxes. For decades these taxes have been used as a political football, bouncing up and then down as politicians used the tax to drum up votes…and their campaign funds…rather than address the tax in a reasonable manner. Finally, things seem to have fallen into place and we can make long-term plans for our clients without guesswork. Of course things can always change, but the politicians have moved onto other issues, and the taxes now effect so few people, the political will to make change has dissipated.
Under the current rules, the federal estate tax exemption protects the vast majority of families from paying any federal estate tax. And, because the federal estate tax exemption is adjusted, over the years inflation will not grow estates so they are subject to the tax. For now, only the most wealthy families are subject to the estate tax and the number of federal estate tax returns Form 706 filed continues to shrink. From 2003 to 2102 the number fell 87%.