Given the intrigue and extensive coverage that the current US election has had north of the border, it is only fitting that we dedicate today’s Hull & Hull Blog to reviewing the position taken by Clinton and Trump with respect to changes to estate tax.

A recent article in Forbes explains that current US laws exempt estates worth $5.45 million or less from paying estate tax.  Estates valued higher pay 40% tax.

Hillary Clinton seeks to increase the taxes owing by the wealthiest from 45% to 65% based on the value of the estate, apparently the highest it’s been since 1981.  Specifically, estates over $10 million would be taxed at 50%, those over $50 million at 55%, and those exceeding $500 million (for a single person) at 65%  As well, Clinton also seeks to lower the exemption for estates valued at $5.45 million to $3.5 million.

Hillary Clinton seeks to increase the estate tax owed by wealthy Americans
“Hillary Clinton seeks to increase the taxes owing by the wealthiest from 45% to 65% based on the value of the estate, apparently the highest it’s been since 1981.”

Trump, on the other hand, seeks to eliminate the estate tax altogether.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Republicans see the tax as “a patently unfair confiscation of wealth that punishes family-owned business”, while the Democrats view it as “a levelling tool necessary to combat concentration of wealth”.

In Ontario, while there is no inheritance tax, estate administration tax is charged on the total value of a deceased’s estate.  Subject to certain exceptions, this includes the following assets: real estate; bank accounts; investments; vehicles and vessels; all property held in another person’s name; and, all other property, wherever situated, including goods, intangible property, business interests, and insurance proceeds.

As discussed in prior Hull & Hull LLP blogs, new provisions came into force on January 1, 2015, which requires payment of $5.00 for each $1,000, or part thereof, for the first $50,000 and $15 for each $1,000, or part thereof, of the value of the estate exceeding $50,000.  There is no estate administration tax payable if the value of the estate is $1,000 or less.

Noah Weisberg