Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2010 – Proposed Bill

Gift Tax

The legislative text and summary of the Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2010, released yesterday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), is now available at the Finance Committee’s website http://finance.senate.gov/legislation/.   A summary of some of the estate tax provisions is set out below.

Permanent estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax relief.  EGTRRA phased-out the estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes so that they were fully repealed in 2010, and lowered the gift tax rate to 35 percent and increased the gift tax exemption to $1 million for 2010. The proposal reinstates the 2009 law for the estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer taxes permanently, setting the exemption at $3.5 million per person and $7 million per couple and a top tax rate of 45 percent. The exemption amount is indexed beginning in 2011. The proposal is effective January 1, 2010, but allows an election to choose no estate tax and modified carryover basis for estates arising on or after January 1, 2010 and before the date of introduction. The proposal is effective upon date of introduction for gift and generation skipping transfer taxes.
Portability of unused exemption. Under current law, couples have to do complicated estate planning to claim their entire exemption (currently $7 million for a couple). The proposal allows the executor of a deceased spouse’s estate to transfer any unused exemption to the surviving spouse without such planning.
Deferral of estate tax for farmland. The proposal allows taxpayers to defer the payment of estate taxes on farmland of a family farm until the farmland is sold or transferred outside the family or ceases to be used for farming. The proposal also increases the valuation adjustment for donations of a conservation easement.
Increase of special use revaluation amount. The proposal increases the amount of the revaluation to the exemption amount, allowing up to a $3.5 million adjustment.
Minimum 10-year term for grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs). The proposal requires that GRATs be set up for a minimum 10-year term. The proposal applies to transfers for which returns are filed after the date of enactment.
Basis for estate and income taxes. The proposal clarifies that the basis of property in the hands of the heir is the same as its value for estate and gift tax purposes. The proposal also requires the executor or donor to report the value to the IRS and heir. The proposal applies to transfers for which returns are filed after the date of enactment.
Thanks to Robert Keebler, CPA for this summary.
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