Gift and Estate Tax Rules

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What are the gift and estate tax rules after tax reform?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, approximately doubled the federal gift and estate tax rules. The basic exclusion amounts to $11.18 million in 2018 (adjusted for inflation in later years). After 2025, the exclusion is scheduled to revert to its pre-2018 level and be cut approximately in half. Otherwise, federal gift and estate taxes remain the same.

Gift tax

Gifts you make during your lifetime may be subject to federal gift tax. Not all gifts are subject to the tax, however. You can make annual tax-free gifts of up to $15,000 per recipient. Married couples can effectively make annual tax-free gifts of up to $30,000 per recipient. You can also make unlimited tax-free gifts for qualifying expenses paid directly to educational or medical service providers. And you can make deductible transfers to your spouse and to charity. There is a basic exclusion amount that protects a total of up to $11.18 million (in 2018) from gift tax and estate tax. Transfers in excess of the basic exclusion amount are generally taxed at 40%.

Estate tax

Property you own at death is subject to federal estate tax. As with the gift tax, you can make deductible transfers to your spouse and to charity; there is a basic exclusion amount that protects up to $11.18 million (in 2018) from tax, and a tax rate of 40% generally applies to transfers in excess of the basic exclusion amount.

Portability

The estate of a deceased spouse can elect to transfer any unused applicable exclusion amount to his or her surviving spouse (a concept referred to as portability). The surviving spouse can use the unused exclusion of the deceased spouse, along with the surviving spouse’s own basic exclusion amount, for federal gift and estate tax purposes. For example, if a spouse died in 2011 and the estate elected to transfer $5 million of the unused exclusion to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse effectively has an applicable exclusion amount of $16.18 million ($5 million plus $11.18 million) to shelter transfers from federal gift or estate tax in 2018.


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This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. This information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, no representation is made as to its accuracy or completeness. This information does not constitute tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty, nor is it a solicitation or recommendation to purchase or sell any insurance or investment product or service, and readers should not rely upon it as such. Readers should seek such advice from their own tax or legal counsel or financial professional. Securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC www.SIPC.ORG . 6 Corporate Drive, Shelton, CT 06484. Tel: 203-513-6000.

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