President Obama just released his last proposed budget, applicable for 2017. It contains several estate and gift tax provisions carried over from his prior proposed budgets, none of which are any more likely to become law than in the past. However, if in January 2017, Democrats do control both the Executive and Legislative branches, the following proposals become more likely:
1) An exemption of $3.5 million per person and a 45% tax rate (in contrast to a $5 million exemption indexed for inflation and a 40% tax rate).
2) The curtailment or elimination of advanced planning techniques used by the wealthy to reduce estate tax, such as 2-year GRATS, gift/sales to intentionally defective trusts, and dynasty trusts.
3) Eliminating unlimited "Crummey" gifting opportunities by capping the annual exclusion at $50,000 per donor.
4) Eliminating the step-up in basis for inherited property, which provides income tax savings.
For now, these proposals are academic.