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New NY law raises estate tax exemption amounts

If you die before April 1, 2016, New

If you die before April 1, 2016, New York won't tax your estate unless it's worth more than $3.125 million. Credit: iStock

New York State has a new estate tax law. What are the new exemption amounts for 2014, 2015 and 2016?

Under the previous law, estates valued at up to $1 million were exempt from New York estate tax. Under the new law, the exempt amount rises annually until 2019. For individuals who died between April 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015, the tax is levied only on estates worth more than $2,062,500.

Your estate is the total value of your assets -- your house, car, retirement accounts and life insurance policies -- when you die. Very few Americans owe a federal estate tax, which in 2014 applied only to estates worth more than $5.34 million. The tax is indexed to inflation. In 2015, it applies only to the estate of individuals who leave more than $5.43 million; for a married couple, the 2015 federal exemption is worth $10.86 million.

The New York estate tax exemption is $3.125 million between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016; $4,187,500 between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017; and $5.250 million between April 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2018. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the New York exemption will be indexed to inflation and will equal the federal estate tax exemption.

But there's a complicating factor. If you die before Jan. 1, 2019, leaving an estate worth more than 105 percent of the prevailing exemption, your entire estate is subject to the New York estate tax. In most cases, however, your survivors won't be worse off than if you'd died under the previous law, says Michael W. Alderman, an East Meadow tax accountant, because the old $1 million exemption is built into the new tax rates.

THE BOTTOM LINE If you die before April 1, 2016, New York won't tax your estate unless it's worth more than $3.125 million.


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