Governor’s Budget Would Raise Estate Tax Exemption to $5.25M

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New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is pitching a rise in the exemption from the estate tax—or, as critics call it, the “death tax”—from $1 million all the way up to $5.25 million.

The budget proposal mirrors legislation that state Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., of Sag Harbor, previously put forward. Thiele called for an exemption of the first $5 million; however, the state’s tax relief commission endorsed $5.25 million, which is in line with the federal tax exemption.

Only two states have a lower exemption amount, according to Thiele’s office.

The budget, if adopted, would also decrease the top tax rate for the estate tax from 16 percent to 10 percent.

“The estate tax has been a major disincentive to agriculture and land conservation on the East End,” Thiele said. “Farmers have been often forced to sell farmland to developers in order to pay the tax. It has had a similar adverse impact on small businesses. In fact, because the exemption amount has not been adjusted to keep pace with home values, more and more middle income residents are finding themselves subject to the tax. I am hopeful that the full State Legislature will embrace this recommendation as part of the 2014 State Budget so this inequity is finally corrected.”

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