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Monday, January 11, 2016
What is included in the Federal Tax Estate?
What is included in the Federal Tax Estate?
The Gross Estate of the decedent consists of an accounting of everything you own or have certain interests in at the date of death (Refer to Form 706 (PDF)). The fair market value of these items is used, not necessarily what you paid for them or what their values were when you acquired them. The total of all of these items is your "Gross Estate." The includible property may consist of cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests and other assets. Keep in mind that the Gross Estate will likely include non-probate as well as probate property.
I own a 1/2 interest in a farm (or building or business) with my brother (sister, friend, other). What is included?
Depending on how your 1/2 interest is held and treated under state law, and how it was acquired, you would probably only include 1/2 of its value in your gross estate. However, many other factors influence this answer, so you would need to visit with a tax or legal professional to make that determination.
What is excluded from the Estate?
Generally, the Gross Estate does not include property owned solely by the decedent's spouse or other individuals. Lifetime gifts that are complete (no powers or other control over the gifts are retained) are not included in the Gross Estate (but taxable gifts are used in the computation of the estate tax). Life estates given to the decedent by others in which the decedent has no further control or power at the date of death are not included.
What deductions are available to reduce the Estate Tax?
Marital Deduction: One of the primary deductions for married decedents is the Marital Deduction. All property that is included in the gross estate and passes to the surviving spouse is eligible for the marital deduction. The property must pass "outright." In some cases, certain life estates also qualify for the marital deduction.
Charitable Deduction: If the decedent leaves property to a qualifying charity, it is deductible from the gross estate.
Mortgages and Debt.
Administration expenses of the estate.
Losses during estate administration.
What other information do I need to include with the return?
Copies of the decedent's will and/or relevant trusts
Copies of appraisals
Copies of relevant documents regarding litigation involving the estate
Documentation of any unusual items shown on the return (partially included assets, losses, near date of death transfers, others).
What is "Fair Market Value?"
Fair Market Value is defined as: "The fair market value is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. The fair market value of a particular item of property includible in the decedent's gross estate is not to be determined by a forced sale price. Nor is the fair market value of an item of property to be determined by the sale price of the item in a market other than that in which such item is most commonly sold to the public, taking into account the location of the item wherever appropriate." Regulation §20.2031-1.
What about the value of my family business/farm?
Generally, the fair market value of such interests owned by the decedent are includible in the gross estate at date of death. However, for certain farms operated as a family farm, reductions to these amounts may be available.
In the case of a qualifying family farm, IRC 2032A allows an inflation-adjusted reduction from value of up to $1,090,000 for 2014, $1,100,000 for 2015, and $1,110,000 for 2016.
A similar deduction for a qualifying family owned business (IRC 2057) was repealed beginning in 2004.
What if I do not have everything ready for filing by the due date?
The estate's representative may request an extension of time to file for up to six months from the due date of the return. However, the correct amount of tax is still due by the due date and interest is accrued on any amounts still owed by the due date that are not paid at that time.
Who should I hire to represent me and prepare and file the return?
The Internal Revenue Service cannot make recommendations about specific individuals, but there are several factors to consider:
How complex is the estate? By the time most estates reach $1,000,000, there is usually some complexity involved.
How large is the estate?
In what condition are the decedent's records?
How many beneficiaries are there and are they cooperative?
Do I need an estate tax professional?
With these questions in mind, it is a good idea to discuss the matter with several estate tax professionals. Ask about how much experience they have had and ask for referrals. This process should be similar to locating a good physician. Locate other individuals that have had similar experiences and ask for recommendations. Finally, after the individual(s) are employed and begin to work on estate matters, make sure the lines of communication remain open so that there are no surprises during administration or if the estate tax return is examined.
Finally, most estates engage the services of both attorneys and CPAs or Enrolled Agents (EA). The attorney usually handles probate matters and reviews the impact of documents on the estate tax return. The CPA or EA often handles the actual return preparation and some representation of the estate in matters with the IRS. However, some attorneys handle all of the work. CPAs and EAs may also handle most of the work, but cannot take care of probate matters and other situations where a law license is required. In addition, other professionals (such as appraisers, surveyors, financial advisors and others) may need to be engaged during this time. source:https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Frequently-Asked-Questions-on-Estate-Taxes#2