One of Biden’s most important campaign promises was that he would not raise taxes on the middle class, or more specifically those earning less than $400,000. Accordingly, it is a surprise to see a new proposal from Democrats that would do exactly that. Biden and the Democrats appear to be going after “stepped up basis” in inheritance taxes as a way to raise tax revenue and fund the infrastructure bill. Right now, when inherited assets get transferred, their basis resets to whatever the market value is at the time of inheritance. In this way, heirs only pay capital gains on the increase in value that occurs while they hold the asset. Biden and his administration wants to change the rules in order to keep the basis in place from when the original buyer purchased the asset. This change would not only affect the wealthy in a big way, but also the middle class, as the basis for many assets would suddenly be very low, meaning large taxes would be due no matter the size of the estate being transferred. A good example might be an inherited condo from a parent that was bought 30 years ago and has appreciated from $100,000 at purchase to $600,000 now. Under the current system, a middle class earner who inherited and decided to immediately sell the condo would pay almost no taxes. However, under the new proposal, almost $100,000 in taxes would be due because basis would be applied to the original purchase price!
FINSUM: This is a big change that advisors need to be watching closely!