Bloomberg summarizes the estate tax. For most clients, estate planning is less about estate tax planning and more about income tax planning. For 2016, the estate tax exemption is $5,450,000 for an individual and 10,900,000 for a married couple. According to Bloomberg, estate tax revenues over the next 10 years will basically be equivalent to the budgets of the EPA, CDC, and FDA, combined, over the same time period.
The above video does a nice job summarizing the estate tax system from a big picture perspective. I disagree with the video when it suggests accountants find “loopholes” to reduce estate taxes. This is a mischaracterization.
Just like income tax reporting, estate tax reporting allows for deductions. Estate tax deductions are available for estate administration expenses, funeral costs, and donations to charity, to name a few. Also, through the use of Irrevocable Trusts and other advance planning techniques, individuals can reduce the value of their taxable estate at death. Such techniques are legal and advisable for high net worth clients.