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Overview of 2009 Estate Tax Filing Requirements

Which 2009 Estates Need to File Form 706?

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In 2001 President George W. Bush signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA for short) into law. This act made gradual changes to the rules governing federal estate taxes which resulted in a $3,500,000 million estate tax exemption in 2009, by far the highest estate tax exemption ever since the estate tax was imposed beginning in 1916 (note that in 2011 the exemption was indexed for inflation and in 2014 the exemption sits at $5,340,000 million).

Refer to the following charts to see how the federal estate tax exemption and rate have changed since 1916:

Exemption From Federal Estate Taxes: 1916 - 1997
Exemption From Federal Estate Taxes: 1997 - 2014

Below is a summary of the rules that applied to the estates of decedents who died between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009.

Decedent is Single, Gross Estate is Valued Less Than $3,500,000

If the decedent was single at the time of death and the gross value of his or her estate did not exceed $3,500,000, then estate was not required to file IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return. Nonetheless, the heirs should have consulted with an estate planning attorney or tax attorney in order to determine if Form 706 should have been filed for other reasons, such as locking in date of death values of the decedent's assets to establish their stepped up basis, or allocating the decedent's unused generation skipping transfer tax exemption to testamentary trusts created under the decedent's estate plan.

If it was determined that an estate tax return should have been filed, then it would have been due 9 months after the decedent's date of death, but the estate could have filed IRS Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time To File a Return and/or Pay U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Taxes, on or before the due date for Form 706 in order to request an automatic 6-month extension of time within which to file the return.

Decedent is Single, Gross Estate is Valued Over $3,500,000

If the decedent was single at the time of death and the gross value of his or her estate exceeded $3,500,000, then estate was required to file IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return. The return was due 9 months after the decedent's date of death, but the estate could have filed IRS Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time To File a Return and/or Pay U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Taxes, on or before the due date for Form 706 in order to request an automatic 6-month extension of time within which to file the return.

Decedent is Married, Gross Estate is Valued Less Than $3,500,000

If the decedent was married at the time of death and the gross value of his or her estate did not exceed $3,500,000, then the estate was not required to file IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return. Nonetheless, the surviving spouse should have consulted with an estate planning attorney or tax attorney in order to determine if Form 706 should have been filed in order to lock in date of death values of the decedent's assets to establish their stepped up basis. Likewise, if the decedent implemented AB Trust planning or generation skipping trusts into his or her estate plan, then the surviving spouse should have consulted with an estate planning attorney or tax attorney in order to determine if Form 706 should have been filed to report the assets used to fund the B Trust as well as their date of death values or to properly allocate the decedent's unused generation skipping transfer tax exemption.

If it was determined that an estate tax return should have been filed, then it was due 9 months after the decedent's date of death, but the estate could have filed IRS Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time To File a Return and/or Pay U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Taxes, on or before the due date for Form 706 in order to request an automatic 6-month extension of time within which to file the return.

Decedent is Married, Gross Estate is Valued Over $3,500,000

If the decedent was married at the time of death and the gross value of his or her estate exceeded $3,500,000, then estate was required to file IRS Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return. The return was due 9 months after the decedent's date of death, but the estate could have filed IRS Form 4768, Application for Extension of Time To File a Return and/or Pay U.S. Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Taxes, on or before the due date for Form 706 in order to request an automatic 6-month extension of time within which to file the return.

Summary of 2009 Estate Tax Filing Deadlines

9 months from date of death - Due date for 2009 Form 706 or Form 4768

15 months from date of death - Due date for 2009 Form 706 for estates that timely filed Form 4768

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