Focus on Stepped-Up Basis after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The new tax law did not change the rules relating to a “step-up” in basis for appreciated assets included in an individual’s estate on death. Accordingly, such assets will continue to be entitled to a new basis equal to their fair market values at the individual’s death, even if no estate tax is imposed on those assets. Thus, the step-up in basis eliminates the taxable gain inherent in appreciated assets that existed at the time of death. As a result, individuals need to consider the pros and cons of either retaining or gifting property, taking into account both the increased federal exemption amounts and the scheduled sunset of the increased federal exemption amounts. Individuals now below the exemption threshold who have made lifetime transfers of appreciated assets so as to remove them from their estates might consider strategies that would cause any such appreciated property to be includible in their gross estates and thereby obtain a step-up in basis in the property. In light of the scheduled sunset of the increased federal exemption amounts, however, any such planning must be carefully weighed against the risk that the current exemption will have reverted to a lower amount at death by reason of either sun-setting or subsequent legislative action.

Comments are closed.