I visited a church Sunday that passed out a two-page list entitled “2008 Year End Gift Ideas.” Apparently, the congregation has been nice, not naughty, because it’s got a spendy Christmas wish list.
If Santa stops by, here’s what they’d like:
Gifts of Cash
Gifts of Stock
Gifts of Real Estate
Charitable Remainder Trusts
I’ve been asked a thousand times at churches: “If you died today, do you know where you’d go?” But this flyer was asking: “If you died today, do you know where your money would go?”
I was struck by the “bequest” section on the Christmas wish list. It stated: “While you’re considering your 2008 income tax savings, it may also be a good time to consider long-term tax savings. The federal estate tax can still take approximately 40%-50% of one’s estate at the time of death. It definitely pays to do some advance planning with your attorney and other professional advisors.”
40%-50%? Really? I was skeptical, but figured I’d Google it after the service was over. Here’s what I found.
According to the IRS web site, the first $2 million of an estate is not taxed by the federal government in 2008. So realistically, the vast majority of the people receiving that “2008 Year End Gift Ideas List” would pay zero percent in estate taxes.
Only those with estates of roughly $20 million or above would pay estate taxes of 40 percent, according to this State Farm Estate Tax calculator.