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2. Who has to pay estate taxes?

Your estate will have to pay federal estate taxes if its net value when you die is more than the exempt amount set by Congress at that time. In 2011 and 2012, the federal exemption is $5 million (adjusted for inflation in 2012) and the tax rate is 35%. If Congress does not act before the end of 2012, the exemption in 2013 will be $1 million and the top tax rate will be 55%. Some states have their own death or inheritance tax, so your estate could be exempt from federal tax and still have to pay state tax.

Year Of Death Exempt Amount Top Tax Rate
2011 and 2012 $5 million 35%
2013 and thereafter $1 million 55%

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