The number of people who pay inheritance tax is:


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House Democrats have proposed an inheritance tax change that would force more households to pay each year.

But how many people actually pay taxes and how does the proposal change that share?

Easy answer: not many people are paying for it now, and the share is not increasing as much.

Beth Shapiro Kaufman, property planner at law firm Caplin & Drysdale, said:

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The inheritance tax due on death is the wealth tax. Cumulative assets such as stocks and real estate valued above a certain level are taxed before they are handed over to heirs.

Members of Congress created a federal inheritance tax in 1916. Since then, Congress has changed factors such as tax rates and the size of real estate to which the taxes apply.

Currently, a 40% federal tax applies to real estate values ​​above $ 11.7 million for singles and $ 23.4 million for married couples.

According to IRS data, 6,409 inheritance tax returns were filed in 2019. About 40% of these (2,570 returns) were taxable. They had an inheritance tax of $ 13.2 billion.

Public stocks make up the majority of assets held by taxable real estate. That’s $ 23 billion, or 30%, of taxable real estate.

0.2% unpaid tax

Historically, 1% to 2% of American adults who die each year have inheritance taxes, according to Kaufman.

However, according to recently available data from the IRS, the share fell to around 0.2% each year from 2011 to 2016. This is the lowest percentage on record since 1934.

Democrats at the House Ways and Means Commission proposed and adopted a plan to lower the taxable asset threshold to $ 5 million per person. It’s at the same level as in 2010 (this measure is part of the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan being considered by Democrats).

Only a small number of descendants pay the inheritance tax.

Beth shapiro kaufman

Caplin & Drysdale Real Estate Planner

In the short term, the change is expected to increase the taxable proportion to about 0.3% or 0.4% of deceased adults, Kaufman said.

The House Democratic Party’s proposal does not significantly increase the proportion of people subject to inheritance tax, but the policy is estimated at $ 52.3 billion over the next five years, Joint Tax Scorekeeper estimates , a non-partisan congressional tax expert. Raise dollars. That’s about four times the tax revenue of 2019 revenue.

Decrease in the tax base

The record share of taxable real estate each year is mainly due to the raising of the threshold for taxable assets. The increase effectively reduces the number of real estate that is required to pay taxes.

For example, in the early 2000s, real estate over $ 1 million was taxable. By 2009, that threshold had risen to $ 3.5 million and then to around $ 5 million over the past decade. In 2017, the Republican Party passed a tax law that doubles asset thresholds to nearly double current levels.

As a result, according to the IRS, the number of inheritance tax returns filed each year decreased by almost 60% between 2010 and 2019.

Republican tax law says asset thresholds will be halved after 2025, even without Democratic action.

Total tax revenue

Tax revenues from affluent real estate are also low due to recent historical standards.

A net inheritance tax of $ 13.2 billion on a tax return filed in 2019 is about 0.4% of the federal tax receipt for 2018 (that is, the corresponding year of death).

By comparison, according to the historical description of inheritance tax by IRS economists, federal inheritance and gift tax revenues have typically been 1% of federal budget revenues since World War II, with a few exceptions. It has evolved between 2 and 2%.

The income share peaked at post-war 2.6% in 1972. (The federal wealth tax rate was in the highest 77% from 1942 to 1976. According to the IRS, patrimony over $ 60,000 was taxable.)


Democrats in the House of Representatives may fail to get more real estate into taxation. President Joe Biden has not proposed such a measure as part of his tax regime announced earlier this year. Democratic senators have yet to announce plans to impose high taxes on wealthy Americans to fund the $ 3.5 trillion budget.

Republicans in Congress are generally reluctant to cut part of the 2017 tax law.

According to IRS economists, “Proponents often argue that these taxes are an effective tool in preventing wealth from concentrating in the hands of a relatively small number of powerful families, but they are opposed to it. He believes the transfer tax will curb capital accumulation and curb national economic growth. “

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