The Tax Bill Cometh
It now seems more likely that a tax bill of some kind will be passed by Congress this year. One prominent DC tax lobbyist told me: "This is happening." Whether or not you agree with all of the provisions now being offered (still subject to revision on a daily basis), the dramatic changes in tax law that would occur under such a tax bill merit close study. Of particular interest are the changes in the federal estate and gift tax law. At the least, the exemptions for estate, gift and generation skipping tax would be doubled, which creates the opportunity for much enhanced wealth transfer planning. But it's important to consider as well that the step-up in basis at death would be preserved, which is a valuable technique for minimizing income tax liabilities on assets with values well in excess of their bases. The aim is not merely to minimize one kind of tax liability, but all of them combined. This might require some new thinking about when to transfer assets. As we have known for some years, the increase in estate and gift tax exemptions has shifted the thinking on tax planning for wealthy individuals to a greater emphasis on income tax planning. Whenever there are substantial changes in tax law, doors open and close. There will be opportunities for tax saving, and possibly a need to change plans previously made. When we know exactly what has happened, we'll prepare more concrete suggestions for planning.