Hillary Clinton’s newly proposed top estate tax rate of 65 percent on $1 billion estates can sound innocuous enough to the average taxpayer. Last year only a handful of estates would have been large enough to have been affected. If that was all there was to the new Clinton estate tax announced in September, most families would be wiser to focus on other things.
But Clinton’s 65 percent estate tax is really just the tip of the iceberg. She also wants to lower the level at which estate taxes become payable to only $3.5 million. By contrast, Donald Trump would eliminate the estate tax.
In addition, Clinton’s website says she would end the current law pertaining to capital gains—which her website calls an “egregious loophole”—whereby inheritors of assets bought decades ago only owe tax when they sell them, not when they inherit them. Under her plan, a much larger capital gains tax than now would be due, and it would be due at death.
A person mourning a loved one might have no choice but to sell inherited assets to pay capital gains taxes. Clinton’s website states that “[Her estate tax plan] will include exemptions to ensure this change only affects the high-income families who by far benefit the most from this loophole, and protects middle-class families.” However, no details as to the exemptions have been announced.