Federal Gift and Estate Tax
YearApplicable Exclusion AmountHighest Tax Rate
2009$1 million for gift tax purposes
$3.5 million for estate tax purposes
2010*$1 million for gift tax purposes
$5 million or $0 for estate tax purposes
35% or 0%
2011$5 million plus DSUEA**35%
2012$5,120,000 plus DSUEA**35%
2013$5,250,000 plus DSUEA**40%
2014$5,340,000 plus DSUEA**40%
2015$5,430,000 plus DSUEA**40%
2016$5,450,000 plus DSUEA**40%
Federal Generation-Skipping Transfer (GST) Tax
YearExemptionHighest Tax Rate
2009$3.5 million45%
2010*$5 million0%
2011$5 million35%

* In 2010, the exemption for gift tax purposes is $1 million, but the exemption for estate tax purposes is $5 million. An estate of a person who died in 2010 can elect out of the estate tax. If it does so, estate property will receive a carryover or modified carryover basis, and not a step up in basis. In 2010, the GST tax exemption is $5 million, but the GST tax rate is 0%.

** Prior to 2011, each taxpayer was entitled to use only the exemption allotted to him or her, and any unused exemption amount would be lost. In 2011 and later years, portability of the gift and estate tax exemption between spouses allows the executor of the first deceased spouse’s estate to transfer any unused exemption amount (DSUEA) to the surviving spouse. This “portability” allows the second spouse to die to dispose of up to $10,900,000 worth of assets, estate tax free.