32 THE QUEENS COURIER • NOVEMBER 29, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
New York State
Estate Tax Changes
BY JOHN SAVIGNANO, CPA
IBack on April 1, 2014, New York State substantially changed its rules
regarding estate taxes. The biggest changes concern the size of the estate tax
exemption and how the estate tax is calculated. For most, New York estate
taxes have been reduced. For some, New York estate taxes remain very high
and many New York residents (for income and estate tax reasons) are moving
to Florida or other low tax states. However, with proper planning, significant
New York estate taxes can be saved or eliminated for those who would otherwise
be subject to New York estate taxes.
As the New York exemption is still tied to the prior federal law, New York
will not raise is exemption to equal the new federal exemption of $11.18
million that became effective in 2018. Thus, New York exemption effective
January 1, 2019 will be approximately $5.8 million.
The rising New York estate tax exemption sounds great at first, but along
with the increase came a new and bizarre way of calculating the estate’s tax
base. If the New York taxable estate is greater than the New York estate tax
exemption amount, the tax is calculated on the entire amount of the taxable
estate rather than only the amount in excess of the exemption (even if it’s by
only $1). This rule is terrible for New York residents whose estates exceed the
New York exemption. Therefore, it is critical to implement an estate plan (if
possible) to ensure the taxable estate is less than the New York exemption.
Proper Planning is Vital for Married Couples
For married couples, it is particularly critical that planning be implemented
so that the New York exemption is not wasted at the death of the first spouse.
While federal law allows a transfer of the unused federal exemption to the
surviving spouse under the doctrine of “portability” (provided a federal estate
tax return is timely filed), New York law does not have an equivalent portability
statute. Therefore, the first spouse’s New York exemption will be lost if not
used at the first death. As a result, if a couple with a combined $10.5 million
estate has all assets passing to the surviving spouse at the first death in 2018
(as would be the case if all assets are owned jointly), no federal or New York
estate tax would be payable at the first death (due to unlimited marital deduction),
but a New York estate tax would be payable at the second death of
$1,146,800 (on the entire $10.5 million).
Implementation of Plan
The first step is to ensure that each spouse separately owns assets that are at
least equivalent to New York exemption amount. This may involve separating
jointly held assets and/or transferring assets from one spouse to the other. In
addition, both spouses must have properly drafted Wills providing for an
exemption trust at the first death for the available New York estate tax exemption.
The surviving spouse can retain access to the assets in the exemption
trust by being a beneficiary of the trust. This strategy will allow for the New
York exemption amount to be held in the exemption trust at the death of the
first spouse regardless which spouse passes away first. Therefore, if the first
spouse to die has a taxable estate of $5.25 million, all estate tax can be eliminated!
A Will containing an exemption trust is generally preferable to
so-called “disclaimer” wills to ensure the New York exemption is not wasted.
It is very important that all available estate planning tools be utilized to
maximize tax savings in light of the current law.
John Savignano is a partner with Savignano Accountants & Advisors located at
47-46 Vernon Blvd., Second Floor, in Long Island City. If you have any questions or
require additional information, please call John at 718-707-0955.
accountants & advisors
ACCOUNTING AND TAX SERVICES THAT BENEFIT YOUR PERSONAL
AND BUSINESS NEEDS
• Multiple LIC Office Location • One Stop Shopping
• Over 25 Years of Professional Experience
• Special Offers and Promotions Available
• All Services Guaranteed
OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:
• Income Tax
• Tax Planning
• Audit Defense
• Net Worth Statements
• Income Tax
• Sales Tax
• Payroll Tax
• Audit Defense
• Tax Planning
Our Certified Public Accountants
are here to serve clients in a variety of industries. Whether you are looking for tax preparation
services, risk management advice, or assistance with a retirement plan, the team at
SAVIGNANO accountants & advisors is here to help.
47-46 Vernon Blvd., 2nd Fl. LIC, NY 11101
718.707.0955 (F) 718.707.0959
41-18 Crescent St. LIC, NY 11101
718.707.0295 (F) 718.707.0299
PLEASE CALL OR VISIT US FOR FREE CONSULTATION