Another reminder about the importance of the 2020 Presidential Election? Yes, but with good reason. We’ve been inundated with news, ads, and messages forcing very carefully crafted information upon us. There’s a lot we know about each candidate and their platform, but there is much more than we don’t know. This applies to all candidates and political parties. Tomorrow, the nation will vote for the candidate who represents the values and policies that best align with our own. However, I doubt anyone will say they agree 100% with any, one candidate. So instead, we’ll vote based upon the criteria that are most important to our own views. And if this happens to include the creation of new taxes, particularly on real estate, then there is something very important to consider.
Should Joe Biden become the next President of the United States, his plan includes a new probate real estate tax hidden in his platform that could cause a massive hit on capital gains.
As proposed by Biden, his new probate real estate tax would end the process of real estate heirs taking probated property on a stepped-up basis and instead require them to pay capital gains taxes on all appreciation that accrued on the property before their inheritance. This would put heirs on the hook for paying capital gains taxes on the appreciation of a property, plus any other profits earned above the current market value once the heir sells the asset.
Existing law is much more favorable to those who inherit real estate. For example, if someone purchased a property when it was valued at $100,000 and died when it had reached a fair market value of $1M, the owner’s heirs would inherit the property at a stepped-up basis of $1M. As a result, heirs under current law do not have to pay capital gains on the $900,000 in appreciation that accrued before the original owner’s death, and if they were to sell the property down the road, they would only pay capital gains taxes on any value above $1M.
Biden’s proposed tax changes as a whole would essentially add a fourth tax bracket to the capital gains schedule of 39.6% on income above $1M, meaning the top rate could reach 43.4% when we include the 3.8% net investment income tax.
How This Affects You!
When your parents pass and leave you the family house normally you inherit that property at what it is worth today. If you would sell that house, you would only pay taxes on what it is worth today and what it sells for. If Biden does away with the stepped-up basis you will inherit the property for what your parents paid for the property. If you decide to sell you will pay taxes on the difference between the original purchase price and what it sells for today.
In addition, a Biden presidency would greatly harm multigenerational ranches and farms by killing the next generation with taxes. Simply put, this election stands to drastically change the transfer of generational wealth as we know it.
It’s Not a Done Deal
First, nothing is known until after November 3 and the election results are tallied. Should Biden win, the change is far from a done deal as his plan could change or be voted down by the legislative branch.
Then there are some unknowns in Biden’s proposal, and how those are worked out could make the tax changes less of a blow, or even worse. For one, it’s unclear if death itself becomes a “taxable event” that forces heirs to pay capital gains taxes on all appreciated value at the time of their inheritance. It’s also possible the Biden plan may allow heirs to inherit real estate on a carry-over basis, so they only have to pay for the years of appreciation when they sell the asset, not at the time of inheritance. Another option is that heirs could spread their taxes out over time.
What is known is that if you care about these changes, and stand to be negatively impacted by them, casting a vote is the best way to voice your opinion on the matter. This is not to say any other candidate does not also plan to change other aspects of the tax structure, which will have a negative impact on at least one sector of the population. This is all the more reason to do your research before taking to your polling location.
The Big Takeaway
Regardless of candidate or political affiliation, the thing that matters most is that you cast a vote, and you do so being as well informed as possible. If you have chosen to vote in person, you still have ample time to do your own research and look for reliable sources. And when you do vote, consider what is most important to you and the candidate most likely to uphold this viewpoint when in office.
No matter the outcome – November 3, 2020 will be a historic day for the world!