Beware, the IRS is Eyeing Your Inherited Money

One of the perils of being well-off is the constant risk that the federal government and/or your friendly state and local tax collectors will figure out new and different ways to snatch more of your wealth, especially wealth that you earned the old-fashioned way: by inheriting it.

To raise your paranoia to the appropriate level, here are two new things to worry about.

The SECURE Act would eliminate the big tax advantage for IRA beneficiaries. If it becomes law, the SECURE Act would require most non-spouse IRA and retirement plan beneficiaries to drain inherited accounts within 10 years after the account owner’s death. This is an anti-taxpayer change for beneficiaries who would like to keep inherited accounts open for as long as possible to reap the tax advantages.

Estate tax clawback could fleece your heirs: the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) drastically increased the unified federal gift and estate tax exemption from $5.49 million in 2017 to $11.4 million for this year, with inflation adjustments for 2020-2025. But the exemption is scheduled to revert back to the much-lower pre-TCJA level in 2026. Depending on political developments, that could happen much sooner. If it happens in 2026 or sooner, how would it affect the tax treatment of large gifts that you made while the ultra-generous TCJA exemption was in place? Proposed IRS regulations issued late last year would provide some protection by stipulating that folks who make large gifts while the TCJA exemption is in place would not be penalized if the exemption reverts back to the much-lower pre-TCJA amount in 2026.

If you think losing these tax treatments would impact your financial planning, be sure to read this article.