Current estate tax laws:
In 2001, Congress passed the existing federal estate tax laws. The 2001 legislation gradually raised the federal estate tax exemption allowance from $1 million to $3.5 million and reduced the estate tax rate from 55 percent to 45 percent.
In 2009, the federal estate exemption allowance is $3.5 million and the top federal estate tax rate is 45 percent.
In the year 2010, no one would owe any estate tax, no matter what the value of your estate was.
In the year 2011, the estate tax rules would revert to the laws existing in 2001. In 2001, the federal estate exemption allowance was $1 million and the estate tax rate was 55 percent.
2010 Congressional Budget Resolution
In May, 2009, the House and Senate each approved the 2010 Congressional Budget Resolution. Language within this bill extends the 2009 estate tax exemption allowance of $3.5 million and the top estate tax rate of 45 percent for the year 2010 and beyond. Like the current laws, the exemption is for an individual. Married couples would need to do some tax planning in order for their estate to exempt $7 million of their estate from estate taxes.
The budget resolution is not law, but suggests there is agreement in both the Senate and the House to extend the existing 2009 estate tax rules into 2010 and beyond.
Under 2009 law, the Urban-Brookings Tax Institute Policy estimates 97.5% of all estates will not be subject to estate tax.
An Act of Congress describing the details of the estate tax changes and making such changes the law is expected before the end of 2009.