2010 has been anything but ordinary as far as the estate tax is concerned. First there was the unexpected repeal of the estate tax (unexpected not because the repeal was unplanned, but because nobody expected it to actually happen), then the idea that congress could reinstate the estate tax and make it effective retroactively, and now there are rumblings that certain Senators are considering a prepaid estate tax!
According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor, “News reports suggest that the Senate may soon consider restoring the estate tax with an option allowing people to prepay their tax before they die. Details are apparently still in flux as senators negotiate. We—and maybe they—don’t know yet what they’ll propose for the basic estate tax but it’s unlikely to be harsher than the 2009 version.”
If something like this gets passed, a visit to your estate planning attorney will be more important than ever, especially if you have the wealth to protect and the means to spend some money now to save a lot of money later.
Of course, this is all just speculation right now, but even the idea of prepaid estate taxes tells us just how much the government is counting on that revenue—one way or another. If you were under any illusions that the repeal of the estate tax might turn into a permanent thing this should be more than enough to convince you that the estate tax is here to stay.