Center for Federal Tax Policy

Estate and Gift Taxes

The federal government taxes transfers of wealth in three ways: through the estate tax, the gift tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax. Together these taxes make up the federal transfer tax system. In addition, many U.S. states impose estate taxes.

Estate taxes and generation-skipping transfer taxes are paid on the contents of estates or proceeds of trusts, while transfers of wealth between living persons are subject to gift taxes. The federal government enacted the first estate tax in 1916. Studies routinely find that estate taxes discourage entrepreneurship and lead to large tax compliance costs.


Featured Research

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November 20, 2019

Sanders’ Estate Tax Plan Won’t Likely Raise the Revenue Intended

January 31, 2019

The House Takes a Big Step Forward on Tax Reform

November 16, 2017

Important Differences Between House and Senate Versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

November 10, 2017

Eight Important Changes in the House Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

November 2, 2017

What Do the Election Results Mean for Tax Policy?

November 9, 2016


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