Forecast estimates 2 in 1,000 farm estates created in 2023 likely owed Federal estate tax returns

Pie chart showing share of principal farm estates by estate tax return status forecast for 2023.

Created in 1916, the Federal estate tax is a tax on the transfer of property to a person’s heirs upon death. In 2023, the Federal estate tax exemption amount was $12.92 million per person, and the Federal estate tax rate was 40 percent. By law, the estate of a person who owns assets above the exemption amount at death must file a Federal estate tax return. However, only returns that have an estate above the exemption after deductions for expenses, debts, and bequests will pay Federal estate tax. Researchers from USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) estimate that 39,988 estates would have been created from principal operator deaths in 2023. ERS forecasts that 330 (about 0.8 percent) of those estates would have been required to file an estate tax return, and 89 (about 0.2 percent) would likely have owed Federal estate tax. Total Federal estate tax liabilities from the 89 farm estates owing taxes are forecast to be $473 million in 2023. The exemption amount increased to $13.61 million per person in 2024, because of an annual inflation adjustment. This chart appears in the ERS topic page Federal Estate Taxes, published in April 2024.

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