Final Rules Adopted on Changes to Estate Tax Exclusion Amount

Final Rules Adopted on Changes to Estate Tax Exclusion Amount

The IRS has issued Reg. §20.2010-1(c) to address the effect of the temporary increase in the basic exclusion amount (BEA) used in computing estate and gift taxes. In addition, Reg. §20.2010-1(e)(3) is amended to reflect the increased BEA for years 2018-2025 ($10 million, as adjusted for inflation). Further, the IRS has confirmed that taxpayers taking advantage of the increased BEA in effect from 2018 to 2025 will not be adversely affected after 2025 when the exclusion amount is set to decrease to pre-2018 levels.

The regulations apply to estates of decedents dying on and after November 26, 2019.

Special Rule for Post-2025 Decedents

Reg. §20.2010-1(c) provides a special rule in cases where the portion of the credit against the estate tax that is based on the BEA is less than the sum of the credit amounts attributable to the BEA allowable in computing gift tax payable within the meaning of Code Sec. 2001(b)(2). In that situation, the portion of the credit against the net tentative estate tax that is attributable to the BEA is based upon the greater of those two credit amounts.

Inflation-Adjusted Amounts and DSUE Amount

Because the term “BEA” includes the exclusion amount, as adjusted for inflation, the examples in the regulations reflect hypothetical inflated adjusted BEAs. Reg. §20.2010-1(c)(2)(ii), Example 2, illustrates the application of the special rule based on gifts actually made, and would be inapplicable to a decedent who did not make gifts in excess of the date of death BEA, as adjusted for inflation.

Reg. §20.2010-1(c)(2)(iii) and (iv), Examples 3 and 4, illustrate that if a spouse dies during the increased BEA period, and the deceased spouse’s executor makes the portability election, the surviving spouse’s applicable exclusion amount includes the full amount of the deceased spousal unused exclusion (DSUE) amount based on the deceased spouse’s increased BEA. The DSUE amount is available to reduce the surviving spouse’s transfer tax liability regardless of when transfers are made.

BEA Calculations

The final rules explain how to determine the extent to which a credit allowable in computing gift tax payable is based solely on the BEA. Reg. §20.2010-1(c)(2)(iv), Example 4, addresses the application of the DSUE ordering rule, as well as the computation of the credit based solely on the BEA in a calendar period in which the transfer exhausts the remaining DSUE amount with the result that the BEA is also allowable.

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