FACT CHECK: Estate tax hits fewer than 1 percent of estates

Published Apr. 21, 2015

The proportion of estates expected to be hit by the federal estate tax this year. While the tax inspires a lot of political rhetoric, only 5,400 estates are predicted to pay it in 2015 — out of about 2.6 million deaths, according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which provides official estimates for Congress. Republicans have long called for repealing it; they claim it prevents small business owners and family farmers from passing businesses on to their heirs. Democrats say repealing the tax is a giveaway to the rich, since the only families that pay it are very rich. The federal tax rate on estates is 40 percent, but there are big exemptions — $5.43 million for a single person, $10.9 million for married couples. Larger estates pay taxes only on the amounts above these thresholds. Repealing the estate tax would reduce federal tax revenues by $269 billion over the next decade. — Associated Press, tbt*