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State revenue from death and gift taxes

One of these things is not so certain anymore

Estate taxes are commonly called “death taxes” because they’re levied on the value of everything you own at the time of death. Only estates valued above a filing threshold, set in 2024 at $13.61 million, are taxed by the Internal Revenue Service. Similarly, the only gifts that are taxed are those valued above $18,000.

The FRED graph above shows data from the US Census on the revenue collected quarterly by all 50 states and the District of Columbia from estate (death) and gift taxes between 1994 and 2023. The data are divided by GDP to make it easier to observe the proportional size of this source of revenue over time.

The relative value of the revenue generated by these taxes has declined by about two-thirds since the Economic Growth and Taxpayer Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 reduced federal tax rates and increased exemptions. Afterward, many states repealed their own estate taxes.

Had Benjamin Franklin seen our FRED graph, he might have penned a different thought about the certainty of death and taxes—or at least about the certainty of “death” taxes.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for “State Tax Collections: T50 Death and Gift Taxes for the United States.” Next, click on the “Edit Graph” button and select the “Line 1” tab to customize the data. Start by searching for “Gross Domestic Product, Millions of Dollars, Not Seasonally Adjusted.” Click on “Add” and then type the formula (a/b). Make sure to click on “Apply.”

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo.

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