Tax Policy Fellow
House Republicans are expected to bring their proposal to repeal the federal estate tax to a vote in the week of April 13. Repeal would reduce revenues by $269 billion over the next decade and worsen inequality because it would benefit only a small number of the nation’s wealthiest estates. How small? See the table below, which estimates how many estates in each state would benefit from repeal in 2016. (The note explains our methodology, based on IRS and Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT] data.)
Nationally, just 5,400 estates would face the tax in 2016, JCT estimates. Only the estates of the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans — roughly 2 out of every 1,000 people who die — owe any estate tax.
For those estates, the gains would be staggering. Taxable estates in 2016 would get a tax cut averaging more than $3 million apiece, JCT data show. The 318 estates worth at least $50 million would receive tax windfalls averaging more than $20 million each.
|State||Estimated number of taxable estates in 2016|
|Alaska||*fewer than 10|
|District of Columbia||40|
|Maine||*fewer than 10|
|Wyoming||*fewer than 10|
|Other areas||40||Note: Estimates are based on IRS data showing the number of estates that paid the tax in each state in 2013 and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that 5,400 estates nationally would face the tax in 2016. We assume that each state's share of those 5,400 estates would be the same as in the 2013 IRS data. Estimates are rounded to the nearest ten estates and are rough because so few estates pay the tax each year. Estimates with an asterisk indicate that the 2013 IRS data were based on a very small sample of returns, so the IRS noted that those data should be treated with caution.|