Scenario: Imagine you’re planning your estate in New York. You’ve heard about various taxes but are unsure how they apply, especially when it comes to gifting assets to your loved ones. You wonder, “Is there a gift tax in New York? How does it affect my estate planning?”
Understanding Estate Tax vs. Inheritance Tax
First, let’s clear a common confusion: the difference between estate tax and inheritance tax. These terms are often used interchangeably but represent two distinct concepts. An inheritance tax is levied on the beneficiaries receiving the inheritance, with close relatives usually exempt. In contrast, an estate tax is imposed on the entire estate before distribution.
The New York Estate Tax Landscape
New York, unlike many states, imposes its own estate tax. As of 2021, the exclusion amount is $5.93 million. This means estates valued below this threshold are exempt from state estate tax. However, New York’s unique “estate tax cliff” stipulates that if an estate exceeds 105% of this exclusion, the entire estate becomes taxable, not just the amount over the threshold.
Gift Tax and the Three-Year Clawback
While New York doesn’t have a specific gift tax, there’s a catch: the three-year clawback provision. If you give away assets at less than fair market value within three years of your death, these gifts are pulled back into your estate for tax purposes. This rule aims to prevent last-minute gifting to circumvent estate taxes.
Federal Estate and Gift Tax
On the federal level, the landscape is different. As of 2021, the federal estate tax exclusion is a hefty $11.7 million, thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This act is set to expire at the end of 2025, potentially reducing the exclusion to $5.49 million. The federal gift tax is unified with the estate tax, meaning the exclusion applies to both lifetime gifts and the estate transferred posthumously.
Intersections with Other Legal Areas
Estate and gift taxes intersect with various legal areas, including family law and business succession planning. For instance, gifting shares of a family business might have implications under both estate tax laws and corporate governance structures.
Practical Steps for New Yorkers
- Understand Your Estate’s Value: Know the worth of your estate to plan effectively.
- Consider Timing of Gifts: Given the three-year clawback rule, timing is crucial.
- Explore Trusts and Other Vehicles: Trusts can be an effective tool for estate tax planning.
- Keep an Eye on Federal Law Changes: Anticipate potential changes post-2025.
- Scenario 1: John, a New York resident, gifts $1 million to his children two years before his death. This amount is added back to his estate, affecting the estate tax calculation.
- Scenario 2: Emma, whose estate is valued at $6 million, faces the entire estate being taxed due to surpassing the 105% threshold of the New York exclusion.
The Importance of Proactive Planning
Proactive estate planning is crucial, especially in a state like New York with our unique tax laws. Understanding these nuances can save your beneficiaries significant amounts in taxes and ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Seeking Personalized Advice
Every estate is unique, and generic advice can’t cover all scenarios. It is essential to consult with an estate planning attorney to navigate New York’s complex tax landscape and develop a strategy tailored to your specific situation. An experienced estate planning attorney can give you the information you need so you can make informed decisions.
For more interesting information please see – The Overlap of Retirement Planning and Estate Planning
Questions About Taxes in New York? Contact Us
If you have questions about how taxes work with regard to planning your estate, you can view our on-demand webinar in the comfort of your own home. Afterward, our estate planning attorney, S.J. Khalsa would be happy to sit down with you for a free consultation to see how we can help you plan for your future so your legacy is protected. You can also send us a message or call our office at (212) 973-0100 if you have specific questions and our caring staff will help you.