Kristi Mathisen, LNWM’s managing director of tax and financial planning, thinks the federal estate tax will be repealed — eventually. Kristi told the Puget Sound Business Journal (March 3 edition), that “pushing repeal into 2018 or even the next Congress is likely.”
The estate tax and gift tax are commonly linked together, said Kristi, who speculated that even if the estate tax is repealed, the gift tax (or some kind of income tax on gifted property) is likely to remain. She noted that having a gift tax prevents people from unlimited giving to avoid paying or reducing income taxes.
Another estate tax issue involves how to value family businesses. The Internal Revenue Service in August 2016 issued new proposed rules on the topic, but President Trump has since issued a moratorium on regulation changes, throwing the future of those new valuation rules into question.
Regardless of what happens with the valuation regulations, Kristi urges family businesses to create a structure for transferring shares in the business.
“You want a shareholders’ agreement that provides a process and rules addressing sales and gifts of business interests. Most families don’t want strangers and former in-laws in their business,” she said.
Finally, even if the federal estate tax is repealed, the major issue for affected Washington residents remains the state’s estate tax with a top rate of 20 percent — something that is unlikely to change in the near term.