We are thrilled to announce that Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group) has joined forces with Bacchetta & Company in an exciting new partnership!

Estate Tax Exemption Doubled Under Tax Reform

Article Highlights

  • Estate Tax Exemption 
  • Unused Exemption Portability 
  • Annual Gift Tax Exemption 
  • Check Your Beneficiaries 
Note: This is one of a series of articles explaining how the various tax changes made by the GOP’s Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (referred to as “the Act” in the article), passed late in December 2017, might affect you and your family in 2018 and future years, and offering strategies you might employ to reduce your tax liability under the new tax laws.

Leading up to the passage of the Act, there was considerable discussion about repealing the estate and gift tax. That didn’t happen! But Congress did double the value of an estate that is excluded from being taxed, and as a result, fewer estates will be subject to the 40% estate tax, and even those in excess of the excluded amount will pay less tax.

The exclusion was previously raised to $5 million in 2010 and is inflation adjusted, so for 2017, the exclusion was $5.49 million. The Act increased the exclusion to $10 million for 2018, but inflation-adjusted it from 2010 and modified the way the inflation rate is calculated, so the exclusion for 2018 is $11,180,000. If the value of an estate exceeds the exclusion amount, a Form 706—an Estate Tax Return—is required to be filed.

A surviving spouse generally inherits the estate of the deceased spouse, so when the surviving spouse dies, their estate will include the value of all of their property still owned at that spouse’s death, whereas the estate of the first to die generally only includes half of their combined estate. That is why Congress created the portability provision several years ago, which allows the executor of the deceased spouse’s estate to transfer any unused estate tax exclusion from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse. That provision still applies. However, a Form 706 must be filed to take advantage of the portability provision. Form 706 returns often require appraisals of the deceased spouse’s assets and are complicated and time consuming.

As a result, when an estate tax return isn’t required because the estate’s value is below the exclusion amount, the surviving spouse generally doesn’t want to go through the process and expense of having the Form 706 completed and filed, thereby forfeiting the portability of the deceased spouse’s unused exclusion. This is generally the appropriate course of action for small estates. However, there are risks, as Congress could reduce the exclusion in the future, or the surviving spouse could hit the lotto big or even receive an inheritance that could cause his or her estate to be taxed. If those occur, the beneficiaries may be asking why portability was not elected. That places a tax preparer in a difficult position, so be understanding if you are requested to sign a statement indicating that you opted out of the portability election so the tax preparer doesn’t have any potential liability with the beneficiaries.

The Act retains the annual gift tax exclusion, which for 2018 is $15,000 per gift recipient (up from $14,000 in 2017).

As an aside to the estate tax filing issue, this is a reminder to periodically review your named beneficiaries for your retirement accounts, brokerage and bank accounts, real estate, and other property. Deaths, divorce, marriage, and other such issues can change whom you want to inherit your estate.

Please give the office a call if you have questions.

Share this article...

More About Us

Get to Know Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group)

Offices in Flemington, NJ and Califon, NJ

Our Mission: At Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group), we are on a mission to redefine the tax experience for individuals and small businesses. With a focus on personalized service, strategic planning, and expert guidance, we aim to empower our clients to succeed financially with confidence and ease.

Expertise in Action: With a wealth of experience and a team of dedicated professionals, we specialize in individual and small business tax preparation. While we excel in all areas of taxation, our passion lies in serving the unique needs of small business owners in New Jersey. We understand that small business taxation requires specialized knowledge and attention to detail, which is why we go above and beyond to ensure our clients receive the guidance and support they deserve.

Tailored Solutions for Every Client: Whether you're a high-net-worth individual seeking comprehensive tax planning or a small business owner in need of accounting and bookkeeping assistance, we have the expertise to meet your needs. Our team takes the time to understand your specific situation and develop customized solutions that align with your goals and objectives.

Why Choose Us?: What sets us apart from other New Jersey tax firms is our commitment to excellence and innovation in the field of taxation. We don't just prepare tax returns; we provide strategic insights, proactive planning, and actionable advice to help our clients achieve their financial goals. With a team of two CPAs, an EA, and an ERO, we have the expertise and resources to deliver exceptional service and results.

Your Success is Our Priority: At Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group), we measure our success by the success of our clients. We are dedicated to building long-lasting relationships, providing unparalleled service, and helping our clients thrive in today's ever-changing tax landscape.

We can't wait for you to experience the Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group) difference.

Tax & Small Business Updates

Get the latest in tax and small business updates and issues that affect your finances and growth prospects.

I confirm this is a service inquiry and not an advertising message or solicitation. By clicking “Submit”, I acknowledge and agree to the creation of an account and to the and .
I consent to receive SMS messages

Flemington Office

Looking for tax help in Flemington, NJ? You can find us at:

Millburn Office

Looking for tax help in Millburn, NJ? You can find us at:

Califon Office