By Matt Brown on 12/15/2010 4:54 PM

The estate tax is viewed negatively by a wide swath of modern America - a society in which substantial weatlh accumulation is more common than ever and still more possible than ever.  Very interesting to look back upon history to see the broad popularity of the estate tax 100 years ago.  Despite all of the challenges we face, public policy discourses today versus 100 years ago demonstrate significantly more optimism and confidence in the availability of opportunities.  A tax that only affects 2% of the population is widely hated because of this widespread optimism.

By Matt Brown on 12/15/2010 11:47 AM
Title III of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 is titled as follows:


That’s right. It’s temporary. Meaning more uncertainty. Great. Is estate and gift tax planning dead? To the contrary! The next two years will provide an enormous planning opportunity if the bill is passed.

The bill amazingly provides for a $5 Million gift tax exemption. No, that is not a typo. In the past, clients had to go to extreme measures to take advantage of the exemption amount as it increased above $1 Million: they had to die. Not surprisingly, no client has yet found that a viable planning technique.

As you probably know by now, House Democrats voted yesterday not to allow the bill to reach a floor vote, mostly based on the perceived give-away to the rich of the estate and gift tax relief provisions. It may be that, to satisfy House Democrats, the bill is amended to temporarily go back to a $3.5 Million exemption amount with a 45% rate of 2009.