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Wealthier Americans need to keep an eye on the federal estate tax exemption amount, which is an important factor in any estate plan. However, the exemption amount is adjusted for inflation each year, so it usually goes up from one year to the next (at least since 2011).

That’s a good thing for taxpayers, though. If the estate tax exemption wasn’t adjusted annually, more and more people would end up having to pay the federal estate tax when they die, even if their property’s value didn’t increase during the year. (Technically, your estate pays any estate tax owed after your death, but that’s not how most people think of it.)

So, what’s the federal estate tax exemption for 2024? Keep reading to find out, and to see what it means.

Related: Federal Tax Brackets and Rates for 2024

How Does the Federal Estate Tax Exemption Work?


federal estate tax exemption form

Before I give you the 2024 federal estate tax exemption amount, I want to make sure you understand how it impacts the federal estate tax. So, here’s a quick and general review of the basics.

YATI Tip: The federal estate tax “exemption” is sometimes referred to as the estate tax “exclusion.”

When you die, the fair market value of all the property you own (including certain interests in a business or property) is added together to determine your “gross estate.”

If your gross estate, plus the value of any taxable gifts made since 1977, exceeds the estate tax exemption for the year of your death, then your estate typically must file a federal estate tax return on Form 706 and pay any estate tax due. (The executor or other representative of your estate files the return and pays the tax on the estate’s behalf.)

After various deductions and credits are claimed, the remaining “taxable estate” is subject to tax at rates ranging from 18% to 40%, as shown in the table below. Those are pretty high rates as federal tax rates go, so you want to avoid the federal estate tax if at all possible. (Your heirs will thank you, too!)

Estate Tax RateTaxable Estate RangeEstate Tax Calculation
18%$0 to $10,00018% of taxable estate
20%$10,001 to $20,000$1,800 plus 20% of amount over $10,000
22%$20,001 to $40,000$3,800 plus 22% of amount over $20,000
24%$40,001 to $60,000$8,200 plus 24% of amount over $40,000
26%$60,001 to $80,000$13,000 plus 26% of amount over $60,000
28%$80,001 to $100,000$18,200 plus 28% of amount over $80,000
30%$100,001 to $150,000$23,800 plus 30% of amount over $100,000
32%$150,001 to $250,000$38,800 plus 32% of amount over $150,000
34%$250,001 to $500,000$70,800 plus 34% of amount over $250,000
37%$500,001 to $750,000$155,800 plus 37% of amount over $500,000
39%$750,001 to $1 million$248,300 plus 39% of amount over $750,000
40%Over $1 million$345,800 plus 40% of amount over $1 million

So, for example, if your taxable estate is $625,000 after all deductions and credits are taken into account, your estate will owe $202,050 of federal estate tax.

(($625,000 – $500,000) x .37) + $155,800 = $202,050

However, if the combined total of your gross estate and taxable gifts before your death is less than the estate tax exemption for the year you die, no estate tax return is required and no estate tax will be due.

Related: How to Give Stocks as a Gift in a Tax-Efficient Way

Federal Estate Tax Exemption for 2024


federal income tax rates

The federal estate tax exemption for 2024 is $13.61 million. That’s a $690,000 jump (or 5.3% increase) from the $12.92 million exemption for people who die in 2023.

As a result, if you pass away in 2024 with an estate worth less than $13.61 million, your estate won’t have to pay any federal estate tax (assuming you previously didn’t make taxable gifts of more than $13.61 million before you died).

History of Federal Estate Tax Exemption

The 2024 federal estate tax exemption of $13.61 million is the largest ever. But that’s no surprise, since inflation has been high of late.

In addition, if you look at the federal estate tax exemption’s history, as shown in the table below, you’ll see a few big jumps from one year to the next. Those steep increases are the result of tax legislation passed by Congress.

The most recent sharp increase kicked in for people who died in 2018. That expansion came from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which more than doubled the federal estate tax exemption.

However, the exemption bump enacted by the TCJA is only temporary. In 2026, the estate tax exemption is scheduled to shrink back down to its pre-2018 size, as adjusted for inflation. We can’t say exactly what the exemption amount will be in 2026, because we don’t know what the inflation rates will be between now and then, but estimates generally range from about $6 million to $7 million.

PeriodFederal Estate Tax Exemption
1977 (Jan. to June)$30,000
1977 (July to Dec.)$120,667
1978$134,000
1979$147,333
1980$161,563
1981$175,625
1982$225,000
1983$275,000
1984$325,000
1985$400,000
1986$500,000
1987 to 1997$600,000
1998$625,000
1999$650,000
2000 to 2001$675,000
2022 to 2010$1,000,000
2011$5,000,000
2012$5,120,000
2013$5,250,000
2014$5,340,000
2015$5,430,000
2016$5,450,000
2017$5,490,000
2018$11,180,000
2019$11,400,000
2020$11,580,000
2021$11,700,000
2022$12,060,000
2023$12,920,000
2024$13,610,000

Related: Standard Deduction Amounts for 2024

State Estate Taxes


state taxes social security benefits magnifier

Don’t forget about state estate taxes. According to the Tax Foundation, the following jurisdictions impose their own estate tax (with 2023 exemption amounts).

StateEstate Tax Exemption
Connecticut$12,920,000
District of Columbia$4,528,800
Hawaii$5,490,000
Illinois$4,000,000
Maine$6,410,000
Maryland$5,000,000
Massachusetts$2,000,000
Minnesota$3,000,000
New York$6,580,000
Oregon$1,000,000
Rhode Island$1,733,264
Vermont$5,000,000
Washington$2,193,000

So, even though federal estate taxes aren’t due when you die, your estate might get a state estate tax bill.

In addition, the following states impose an inheritance tax (yes, Maryland has both an estate tax and an inheritance tax):

  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania

Inheritance taxes are different in that they’re paid by your heirs on the property they inherit from you. In many cases, close family members (e.g., spouse, child, etc.) are exempt from the inheritance tax or pay a lower rate.

Check with the state tax agency where you live for more information about state estate or inheritance taxes that might apply.

Related:

Rocky has been covering federal and state tax developments for over 25 years. During that time, he has provided tax information and guidance to millions of tax professionals and ordinary Americans. As Senior Tax Editor for Young and the Invested from Jan. 2023 to Feb. 2024, Rocky spent most of his time writing and editing online tax content.

Before working for Young and the Invested, Rocky was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger, where he wrote and edited tax content for Kiplinger.com, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report and The Kiplinger Tax Letter. Prior to his time at Kiplinger, Rocky was a Senior Writer/Analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. In that role, he managed a portfolio of print and digital state income tax research products, led the development of various new print and online products, authored white papers and other special publications, coordinated with authors of a state tax treatise, and acted as media contact for the state income tax group (where he was quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other national media outlets). Before that, Rocky was an Executive Editor at Kleinrock Publishing, which provided tax research products for tax professionals. At Kleinrock, he directed the development, maintenance, and enhancement of all state tax and payroll law publications, including electronic research products, monthly newsletters, and handbooks.

Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.