When the Superrich Die, Here’s What’s in Their Wallets
The superrich are different from the very, very rich. For one thing, they own more art.
Estate tax data recently released by the Internal Revenue Service show what the wealthiest Americans possess when they die—and where the money goes.
First, a few basics. The returns in the data sample were all filed in 2014, which means they came largely from the estates of people who died in 2013. That year, the tax applied to estates of individuals exceeding $5.25 million, with a top rate of 40 percent, up from 35 percent the year before. Estates can deduct charitable contributions and bequests to surviving spouses, who then pay up when they die.The most important thing to remember about the estate tax is that almost no one pays it anymore. Congress has bumped up the exemption and indexed it to inflation, ensuring that almost all of the 2.6 million people a year who die in the U.S. never have to worry about the estate tax.
That leaves the very wealthiest sliver of the country. Fewer than 12,000 estate tax returns were filed in 2014, and more than half of those returns didn’t yield any tax for the federal government.
The data break down what assets people hold at death, offering a glimpse into the holdings of the ultrawealthy. They don’t provide much information about all of the ways that wealthy individuals shift assets out of their ownership or all of the convoluted planning maneuvers that can reduce the size of estates before death. People who died with more than $50 million–the top category–were heavily invested in stock and closely held businesses.
Those who were rich enough to file an estate tax return–but not at the very top...MORE
HT: The Big Picture