estate tax

Estate (Death) Tax Portability

Good article discussing the "portability" aspect of the estate (death) tax.

The “portability election” refers to the right of a surviving spouse to claim the unused portion of the federal estate tax exemption of their deceased spouse and add it to the balance of their own exemption. Since in 2015 the federal estate tax exemption is $5.43 million per person (the exemption changes every year since it is indexed for inflation), this means that a married couple can potentially pass on $10.68 million to their heirs free from federal estate taxes.

An Executor of an Estate Must Pay Decedant's Income Taxes First

If you're the executor of an estate, you must pay back income taxes owed by the decedant before you can disperse assets to beneficiaries.

This is the finding of United States v. McNicol, No. 15-2214 (1st Cir. 2016).

At the time decedant's death, the decedant owed over $340,000 in unpaid federal income tax liabilities. Since these liabilities exceeded the value of his estate, the estate was insolvent.

Nevertheless, the estate's executor distributed assets to herself. The IRS sued for payment of the back income taxes, and the executor lost on appeal.


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