President Obama has submitted his last budget proposal to Congress. It contains many of the same changes to the tax code that he previously tried to implement. While there appears to be little chance the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will agree to the changes, it is important to know what has been proposed. Recently, the National Law Review listed the changes that would affect estate planning in Any Estate Tax Changes on the Horizon?

The proposals include:

  • Reducing the estate tax exemption from the current $5 million per individual to $3.5 million and raising the rate from the current 40% to 45%.
  • Making it more difficult to use advanced estate planning techniques such as GRATS, defective trusts and gift/sale agreements to get around the estate tax.
  • Capping Crummey gifting at $50,000 per year instead of the current unlimited amount.
  • Doing away with the step-up basis for inherited capital gains.

It does not appear that the House of Representatives will even debate President Obama's budget proposals this year, so these changes are unlikely. However, there is always the possibility that the President and congressional leadership will need to compromise to get a budget passed.

In this election year legislators want to settle on a budget as early as possible so they can focus on their campaigns. It remains to be seen whether their desire to finish quickly will lead them to compromise on taxes, so interested parties should pay attention.  You should really sit up and pay attention if the Democrats take the White House and either house of Congress in the Fall.

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