California Estate Tax: Gone Today, Here Tomorrow?

Recently, California State Senator Scott Wiener introduced a bill that would impose estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax on any transfers, both during life and at death, after December 31, 2020. California law dictates that if the legislation passes any new bill that imposes transfer tax, the law does not go into effect unless the voters approve it. So if the bill passes the California Legislation, the bill will be on the November 2020 ballot.

Under the proposed bill, taxpayers will be subject to a 40% tax rate of all transfers, same as the federal rate. There will be a credit for transfer taxes paid to the federal government to avoid double taxation. But where the federal basic exclusion amount for each type of transfer is $11,400,000 and is adjusted for inflation, the California exclusion amount will only be $3,500,000 and will not be adjusted for inflation. Among several of the issues and complexities that accompany the bill, with a full credit for federal transfer taxes, only estates between $3,500,000 and $11,400,000 will be subject to the California tax. Essentially, an estate of a Californian worth $100,000,000 would pay the same California estate tax as someone with an estate of $11,400,000. There is also no marital deduction in the current draft, but this is most likely an oversight and should be resolved.

All of the monies generated from the bill, including the transfer taxes themselves, interest, and penalties would fund the proposed Children’s Wealth and Opportunity Building Fund, which will fund programs to help address socio-economic inequality.

See California Estate Tax: Gone Today, Here Tomorrow?, National Law Review, April 4, 2019.

Comments are closed.