Inheritance tax is levied upon the death of a person. After the evaluation of the deceased person’s property, the executors of the must pay the state the amount that is in excess of the inheritance tax threshold.
Inheritance tax may be defined as the tax charged on the value of the a person’s estate after that person’s death. It is a state tax based on the value of property passing to each heir and it differs from the estate tax in that the the
estate tax is a net value tax, while the inheritance tax determines the tax rate and the exempt amount. The inheritance tax threshold is generally fixed by the state, and any property whose valuation is higher than that is liable for inheritance tax after the death of the owner. As property prices are increasing more than ever, property assets of more and more people have crossed the state fixed inheritance tax threshold. The heirs of the deceased person must pay the inheritance tax at a rate of 40% on the asset amount that is above the threshold limit.
Avoiding inheritance tax is becoming difficult, due to a huge increase in property prices. There are some strategies that people employ to avoid inheritance tax, but they are advised to consult with skilled professionals, as inheritance tax is a complicated issue.
Making a will is necessary, although it may not help minimize the inheritance tax, but it will make the intentions of the owner clear and help in the legal processing of the inheritance tax. Transfer of property between spouses may be helpful to lessen the inheritance, but on the other hand it will increase the value of the surviving partner’s asset.
Bequeathing the estate to children, rather than spouse, may be helpful to avoid inheritance tax to some extent, but it may be legally complicated. Gifting to children under the “inheritance gift with reservation” or giving away gifts to friends and relatives, known as “potentially exempt transfers,” may also help to reduce the inheritance tax.
Varieties of inheritance and estate taxes
- Belgium, droits de succession or successierechten (Inheritance tax). Collected at the federal level but distributed to the regional level.
- Bermuda: stamp duty
- Brazil: Imposto sobre Transmissão “Causa Mortis” e Doação de Quaisquer Bens ou Direitos (Tax on Causa Mortis Transmission and as Donation of any Property and Rights). Collected at the state level. The Brazilian Senate limited the maximum rate to 8%, but the average rate imposed by states is 4%.
- Czech Republic: daň dědická (Inheritance tax)
- Finland: perintövero (Finnish) or arvskatt (Swedish) (Inheritance tax)
- France: droits de succession (Inheritance tax)
- Germany: Erbschaftssteuer (Inheritance tax). Smaller bequests are exempt, i.e., €20,000–€500,000 depending on the family relation between the deceased and the beneficiary. Bequests larger than these values are taxed from 7% to 50%, depending on the family relationship between the deceased and the beneficiary and the size of the taxable amount.
- Ghana: Inheritance tax on intangible assets
- Ireland: Inheritance tax (Cáin Oidhreachta)
- Italy: tassa di successione (Inheritance tax). Abolished in 2001 and reestablished in 2006. €1,000,000 exemption on a bequest to a spouse or child, and a maximum rate of 8%.
- Japan: souzokuzei (Inheritance tax) paid as a national tax.
- The Netherlands: Successierecht (Inheritance tax) NB. as per 1 January 2010 Successierecht has been abolished for the erfbelasting regime, and is replaced with Erfbelasting with rates from 10% to 40%. for brackets by amounts and separation.
- Switzerland has no national inheritance tax. Some cantons impose estate taxes or inheritance taxes.
- United Kingdom: see Inheritance Tax (United Kingdom) (actually an estate tax)
- United States: see estate tax in the United States
- Spain: Impuesto sobre Sucesiones (Inheritance Tax). The amendment of Spanish law has been put into practice, in compliance with the European Court ruling of September 3 of last year, and on December 31, 2014 Order HAP/2488/2014, of December 29, was published in the Official State Bulletin, which approve the Inheritance and Gift Tax self-assessment forms 650, 651 y, and establishes the place, forma an term for its submission.
Some jurisdictions formerly had estate or inheritance taxes, but have abolished them:
- Australia abolished the federal estate tax in 1979, but capital gains tax is levied on the sale of an asset or its transfer of ownership and if this occurs upon the death of the owner it constitutes a “crystalising action”, and capital gains tax becomes assessable.
- Austria abolished the Erbschaftssteuer in 2008. This tax had some of the features of the gift tax, which was abolished at the same time
- Canada: abolished inheritance tax in 1972. However, capital gains are 50% taxable and added to all other income of the deceased on their final return.
- Hong Kong: abolished estate duty in 2006 for all deaths occurring on or after 11 February 2006. (See Estate Duty Ordinance Cap.
- India: had an estate tax from 1953 to 1985
- Israel: abolished inheritance tax in 1981, but inherited assets are subject to a 20% to 45% capital gains tax upon their sale
- New Zealand abolished estate duty in 1992
- Norway: abolished inheritance tax in 2014
- Russia abolished inheritance tax in 2006
- Singapore: abolished estate tax in 2008, for deaths occurring on or after 15 February 2008.
- Sweden: abolished inheritance tax in 2005. A retroactive decision exempted deaths during late December 2004 from inheritance tax, due to the many Swedish casualties in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
- U.S. states
Louisiana: abolished inheritance tax in 2008, for deaths occurring on or after 1 July 2004
New Hampshire: abolished state inheritance tax in 2003; abolished surcharge on federal estate tax in 2005
Utah: abolished inheritance tax in 2005.
Some jurisdictions have never levied any form of tax in the event of death:
- Cayman Islands
Some U.S. states impose inheritance or estate taxes (see inheritance tax at the state level):
- Indiana: abolished the state inheritance on December 31, 2012.
- Iowa: Inheritance is exempt if passed to a surviving spouse, parents, or grandparents, or to children, grandchildren, or other “lineal” descendants. Other recipients are subject to inheritance tax, with rates varying depending on the relationship of the recipient to the deceased.
- Kentucky: The inheritance tax is a tax on a beneficiary’s right to receive property from a decedent’s estate. It is imposed as a percentage of the amount transferred to the beneficiary:
* Transfers to “Class A” relatives (spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, and siblings) are exempt
* Transfers to “Class B” relatives (nieces, nephews, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, aunts, uncles, and great-grandchildren) are taxable
* Transfers to “Class C” recipients (all other persons) are taxable at a higher rate. Kentucky imposes an estate tax in addition to its inheritance tax.
- New Jersey: New Jersey law puts inheritors into different groups, based on their family relationship to the deceased person:
* Class A beneficiaries are exempt from the inheritance tax. They includes the deceased person’s spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner parent, grandparent, child (biological, adopted, or mutually acknowledged), stepchild (but not stepgrandchild or great-stepgrandchild), grandchild or other lineal descendant of a child
* Class B was deleted when New Jersey law changed
* Class C includes the deceased person’s: brother or sister, spouse or civil union partner of the deceased person’s child, surviving spouse or civil union partner of the deceased person’s child. The first $25,000 inherited by someone in Class C is not taxed. On amounts exceeding $25,000, the tax rates are: 11% on the next $1,075,000, 13% on the next $300,000, 14% on the next $300,000, and 16% for anything over $1,700,000
* Class D includes everyone else. There is no special exemption amount, and the applicable tax rates are: 15% on the first $700,000, and 16% on anything over $700,000
* Class E includes the State of New Jersey or any of its political subdivisions for public or charitable purposes, an educational institution, church, hospital, orphan asylum, public library, and other nonprofits. These beneficiaries are exempt from inheritance tax.
- Pennsylvania: Inheritance tax is a flat tax on the value of the decedent’s taxable estate as of the date of death, less allowable funeral and administrative expenses and debts of the decedent. Pennsylvania does not allow the six month after date of death alternate valuation method that is available at the federal level. Transfers to spouses exempt; transfers to grandparents, parents, or lineal descendants are taxed at 4.5%. Transfers to siblings are taxed at 12%. Transfers to any other persons are taxed at 15%. Some assets are exempted, including life insurance proceeds. The inheritance tax is imposed on both residents and nonresidents who owned real estate and tangible personal property in Pennsylvania at the time of their death. The Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax Return (Form Rev-1500) must be filed within nine months of the date of death.