President Trump has made an official proposal to repeal the estate tax entirely, as expected. That raises more questions than it answers.
While campaigning for the Presidency, Donald Trump frequently said that, if elected, he would repeal the estate tax entirely. As with all political campaign promises, that did not necessarily mean he would follow through soon on the promise, if he did at all.
However, President Trump recently released a tax reform proposal that calls for a total repeal of the estate tax, among other things.
That does not mean that anyone should make plans for the end of the estate tax, as Investment News points out in "Trump tax proposal leaves advisers in the dark on estate tax repeal." Moreover, the plans of President Trump only cover the federal estate tax, and not the estate taxes imposed by states. Maryland and DC impose a state estate tax and Virginia does not. Consult a Maryland estate planning attorney or DC estate planning attorney to consider how those taxes should affect your estate plan.
The biggest issue is how an estate tax repeal will get passed in Congress, if it can be at all.
Ordinary legislation requires 60 votes in the Senate to pass without a filibuster. It is unlikely that any large tax cut on the wealthy will be able to get those votes, since Democrats have vowed to block them.
The budget reconciliation process can be used so that only 50 votes are needed to pass an estate tax repeal, but there are many restrictions on that process. The most important one is that anything passed must be revenue neutral, which means that any cuts have to be offset with tax increases elsewhere.
If the cuts are not revenue neutral, then the law must sunset after 10 years.
The estate tax would come back.
President Trump has previously proposed changing capital gains taxation to offset the estate tax repeal, but it is not known how much support that idea has in Congress.
Both the President and Republicans in Congress, would like to see many more tax cuts that also have to be paid for, which might mean the estate tax repeal could be dropped for other priorities.
Reference: Investment News (April 27, 2017) "Trump tax proposal leaves advisers in the dark on estate tax repeal."