NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.
Prior to May 1, 2010 the answer to this question was No, but on April 30 the Hawaii legislature overrode Governor Linda Lingle's veto of a state estate tax bill and so now Hawaii does collect a state estate tax. The tax will apply to the estates of residents and nonresidents who own real estate and/or tangible personal property located in Hawaii. For information about the past and current Hawaii estate tax exemptions, refer to the State Estate Tax and Exemption Chart.
Between January 1, 2005 and April 30, 2010, Hawaii did not collect a state estate tax due to major changes that took effect with regard to federal estate tax laws. What do federal estate tax laws have to do with Hawaii state estate taxes? Prior to January 1, 2005, Hawaii collected a separate estate tax at the state level, called a "pick up tax," that was equal to a portion of the overall federal estate tax bill.
What is the Pick Up Tax?
The "pick up tax" is a state estate tax that is collected based on the state estate tax credit that the IRS allowed on the federal estate tax return, IRS Form 706, prior to January 1, 2005. Each state had different tax laws with regard to the pick up tax, so the amount that a state would collect varied based on that state's own estate tax laws. In essence, however, the overall estate tax bill was not increased or decreased due to the pick up tax. Instead, the total tax bill was apportioned between the IRS and state taxing authority.
So what does this mean in plain English? It means that a portion of the federal estate tax was actually taken away from the IRS and instead paid to the decedent's state taxing authority. As such, prior to January 1, 2005, if a deceased Hawaii resident owed federal estate taxes, then the Hawaii Department of Taxation collected the pick up tax from the deceased Hawaii resident's estate.
What is the Future of the Pick Up Tax?
Effective January 1, 2005, the pick up tax was officially phased out under the provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act ("EGTRRA"). In response to these changes in federal law that phased out the pick up tax, some states that used to collect a pick up tax chose to enact laws that allow the state to still collect a state estate tax. This is referred to as "decoupling" since the states that enacted a state estate tax no longer based their state estate tax laws on current federal estate tax laws.
After EGTRRA, the majority of states did absolutely nothing and therefore no longer collect a state estate tax, and while under the provisions of EGTRRA the pick up tax was supposed to return in 2011, it didn't due to the enactment of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 ("TRUIRJCA"), which reinstated federal estate taxes but did not bring back the pick up tax. Nonetheless, the provisions of TRUIRJCA were set to expire on December 31, 2012, which would have brought the pick up tax back in 2013, but Congress and President Obama acted in early 2013 to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act ("ATRA"). Under the provisions of ATRA, the rules governing federal estate taxes as set forth under TRUIRJCA were made permanent, which means that the pick up tax was not resurrected in 2013 and will not come back in future years without further action by Congress.
Where to Go for More Information About Hawaii's Estate Tax
Does Hawaii Collect a State Inheritance Tax?
Does Hawaii currently collect a state inheritance tax, which is a tax assessed against the share received by each individual beneficiary of an estate as opposed to an estate tax, which is assessed against the entire estate? The answer to this question is No, Hawaii no longer collects a state inheritance tax because it was replaced with a state estate tax under The Estate and Transfer Tax Reform Act of 1983.
Where to Go For More Information About State Estate Taxes and Inheritance Taxes
Refer to the following articles to find additional information about estate taxes and/or inheritance taxes that are collected in other states: