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US estate tax revision seen through a glass, darkly

1738 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  humble_pie
what i've been able to gather is that a decade of gradually raising the estate tax threshhold each year, with the goal of eliminating it altogether by 2010, was ushered in in 2001. To create new legislation, congress & senate would have had to vote together by december 31, 2009. Congress did pass a new bill but senate vote failed. This resulted in the year 2010 becoming known as Throw Mama Off The Train Now, since there is, for this year only, and possibly never again, zero US estate tax.

apparently there are at least 7 conflicting estate tax bills circulating in washington, waiting for house discussion & vote. These include treatment of deceased non-resident aliens. However, priority attention of the house has been focused on health care legislation.

if washington would fail to pass new legislation in 2010, the default mechanism wiill be to revert to 2001 estate tax rules. Although there is a basic $60K threshhold for deceased non-resident aliens, particular tax treaties with individual countries such as canada have contributed amendments such as unified credit rules to this provision. One can understand why certain mutual fund companies may choose to post the basic $60K warning on their websites and literature, so that each investor becomes charged to investigate his or her own circumstances.

ah, what bliss for lawyers and accountants serving the high-net-worth trade.

what i would hope to see on this forum, during this year of US congressional and senate debate over estate tax, which includes its right to tax non-resident aliens, are references and links to analytical articles that have been & will be prepared by international accounting & law firms. In addition some specialized financial planners may acquire enough knowledge to have something significant to say. Such articles will tend to appear first in house publications, and later on in peer-reviewed professional and academic journals. It's always amazing to see how many of these do escape in-house restrictions and make their way, quite soon, into the internet. In addition, journalists like jonathan chevreau and other commentators at the globe & mail will undoubtedly keep an eye on these proceedings as they unfold.

the foregoing are the gilt-edged sources of opinion and information that i intend to consider. I will not respect any author who attempts to claim prematurely that the new estate rules are thus, or so, or black, or white, because the reality is that the entire situation will probably remain in flux in washington for the rest of this year.

however, some commentators have already mentioned that washington desperately needs money, so the probability is that new estate tax legislation will be more draconian rather than more relaxed. Democrats are expected to favour bigger estate tax bite; republicans less, going all the way out to zero.
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