Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rasmusen: The Meaning of 'Value' for Estate & Gift Tax Purposes

Eric B. Rasmusen (Indiana University, Kelley School of Business), The Meaning of 'Value' for Gift and Estate Tax Donee Limitations in § 6324(B): An Amicus Brief for Marshall v. Commissioner:

In 1995, J. Howard Marshall II made a gift to Elaine Marshall worth some $43 million at the time of transfer. The IRS assessed gift tax against his estate, which failed to pay. In 2008 the IRS assessed gift tax of $74 million against donee Elaine Marshall, which exceeds $43 million because of the interest accumulated since 1995 but is less than the $81 million the gift would compound to at 5% per year. Does the limitation on donee liability to “the value” of the gift imposed by § 6324(b) mean to “the original amount of the gift” or to “the value of the gift at the time of eventual tax payment”? In effect, that is the issue in Marshall v. Commissioner, which is now before the 5th Circuit. The SD Texas and the 11th Circuit went one way; the 3rd and 8th Circuits went the other way on the issue. This paper is an amicus brief for that case and, I hope, a good example of how economics can inform and simplify law.

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