New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died today at the age of 80. According to Forbes Magazine, he was worth $1.1 billion.
Total federal estate tax his family would have owed if he died last year or next year? Approximately $500 million.
Total federal estate tax his family owes this year? Exactly zero.
As I’ve written about before, because of Congress’s total ineptitude, incompetence, and outright legislative malpractice, there is no estate tax this year and this year only. This is something Congress knew was going to happen since 2001, and they allowed this quirk of a year to happen. So another billionaire’s family does not have to pay the estate tax, because their relative had the good sense to die this year instead of last year or next year.
This is extra special to Steinbrenner’s children, because this means that they get to keep the team. If he died last year, his family would owe the IRS the value of 45 percent of all of his assets, in cash, nine months after his death. Technically, it’s 45% of the value of his assets greater than his unused lifetime exclusion. But the lifetime exclusion was $3.5 million. For most people, that exempts them from the estate tax. But for billionaires, it’s not really relevant.
I don’t know the financial situation of him and his family, but I doubt they have $500 million in cash sitting around. What often happens when the elderly owner of a sports team dies, his family has to sell the team in order to pay the estate taxes. It happened with Miami Dolphins’ owner Joe Robbie’s estate.
Once again, good job Congress.