The Build Back Better Act did not pass in 2021. However, this is not to say that Congress won’t try to get something through in 2022 by piecing out the legislation into two bills or further trimming down programs. This takes us into the new year with the same uncertainty regarding taxation as we had in 2021.
Estate and Gift Tax Exemption
In 2022, the estate and gift tax exemption will climb higher to $12.06 million per individual – up from $11.7 million per individual in 2021. As such, an individual can leave $12.06 million to heirs and pay no estate or gift tax, and a married couple can pass $24.12 million estates and gift tax-free. (One version of the BBB Act included a provision that would have cut the estate and gift tax exemption to about $6 Million.)
Gift Tax Annual Exclusion Amount
In addition, the gift tax annual exclusion amount will increase to $16,000 for 2022, up from $15,000 since 2018. Individuals and couples will be able to give away $16,000 to as many people as they like – children, grandchildren, friends, fellow citizens, and anyone else – with no federal or gift tax consequences. Multiple annual exclusion gifts can add up significantly and do not reduce the $12 million credit. This is a simple way to reduce one’s estate. You can also make unlimited direct payments for medical and tuition expenses for as many people as you like with no gift, estate, or income tax consequence.
Reducing the Likelihood of Estate Taxes
The IRS taxes estates above the threshold at rates of up to 40%. By making gifts and transferring wealth early, the wealthy can reduce the likelihood of the estate tax. The state in which you reside is another consideration for gifting strategy. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia levy some form of an estate or inheritance tax (or in the case of Maryland – potentially both!), so even if you don’t qualify on the federal level, you might wind up owing taxes on a state level.
As we enter 2022, regardless of what happens with tax legislation, there are steps you can take to prepare. But, first, everyone must evaluate their situations and identify opportunities. And if you have never done any estate planning and do not have a will or trust, it is essential to get this accomplished.
ABOUT STEVE SHANE
Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts, and a charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation, and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 16 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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