I always stress that one of the difficulties of planning is that elected officials are constantly changing the rules on us. With the stroke of a pen, the best and most carefully crafted planning can be rendered moot. The President’s proposed budget is a reminder of this fact, especially as it pertains to estate tax planning.
As part of the so-called fiscal-cliff deal reached between the President and Congress earlier this year, the estate tax exemption was set at $5.25 million adjusted for inflation. At the time, both sides said the exemption was permanent. However, permanent does not mean the same thing in Washington as it does everywhere else.
The President’s budget proposal – just released - calls for returning the estate tax exemption to 2009 levels in 2018. That would reduce the exemption from $5.25 million adjusted for inflation to $3.5 million and raise the top estate tax rate from 40% to 45%.
The proposal still has a long ways to go before it becomes law. However, it illustrates my point that planning is an ongoing process that needs to take into account the changing rules given to us by Washington.
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