In the United States, the federal government levied inheritance taxes during the Civil War period and again during the Spanish-American War; since 1916, however, a progressive estate tax has been imposed. The U.S. tax law of 1981 greatly reduced estate and gift taxes by raising exemptions (from $175,000 to $600,000) and lowering rates, and a 2001 law called for phasing out the federal estate tax by 2012, but that was reversed and the tax remained in place on estates worth more than $5.49 million (twice that for couples). Changes in 2017 doubled those thresholds for 2018–25.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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