Thursday, April 28, 2011

11 Possible Deductions from your Estate Tax

In computing estate tax, the amount can sometimes be so outrageous and irritatingly hefty it can nearly wipe off the total net amount the heirs will be receiving from the estate of a deceased.

Oh yes, I have definitely encountered widows who wished their husbands have done some estate planning. It is even worse when people have failed to settle their estate taxes for the longest time so that penalties and surcharges have gravely and enormously accrued. This is such a frustrating tax condition because considering the grief/state the heirs might still be in, the last thing they need is the government telling them:   “We are sorry for the death of your loved one, but this is how much you owe us and you still have to pay us”.

Sadly, there is no way getting around it because we have to submit to the power of the government to tax us, even if we are already 6 feet below the ground. Don’t they say that tax, aside from death, is the only thing that is certain on earth? Talk about ironies.

That is why as property owner and/or prospective property owner it won’t hurt to know some key information about estate taxation. Apart from estate planning, (this was already discussed in previous blog) below are some deductions one should consider or prepare for to write off as deductions from the estate of a deceased or decedent.
A)   If the decedent is a Citizen or a Resident, the following deductions are allowed: 

1.    Actual funeral expenses or in an amount equal to five percent (5%) of the gross estate, whichever is lower, but not to exceed Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000);

2.      Judicial expenses of the testamentary or intestate proceedings;

3.   Claims against the estate subject to certain documentary requirements such as i) duly notarized debt instrument executed at the time of indebtedness; and ii) if the loan was contracted within three (3) years before the death of the decedent, a statement showing the disposition of the proceeds of the loan;

4.   Claims of the deceased against insolvent persons provided such value is included in the gross estate;

5.    Unpaid mortgages upon, or any indebtedness in respect to, property provided the value of decedent's interest therein, undiminished by such mortgage or indebtedness, is included in the value of the gross estate.

6.    Property Previously Taxed. – this deduction is otherwise called vanishing deductions and involves a property previously taxed (for either donor’s or estate tax) because of the death and/or transfer of prior decedent to the present decedent. The amount to be deducted, equal to percentage value of the property, depends on time frame of the death of prior decedent from the death of present decedent. For example, if prior decedent died within one year to the death of the present decedent, the deduction is equal to 100% of the value of the property. Such value to be deducted vanishes by percentage as the time frame of death increases. Below is the table of percentage value to be deducted:

 100% - 1 year from death
                       80%   - More than 1 year from death but not more than 2 years
                       60%   - More than 2 years from death but not more than 3 years
 40%  -  More than 3 years from death but not more than 4 years
 20%  -  More than 4 years from death but not more than 5 years              

7.    Transfers for Public Use. – All amounts given as bequests, legacies, devises or transfers to or for the use of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, or any political subdivision thereof, for exclusively public purposes.

8.   Family Home. - An amount equivalent to the current fair market value of the decedent's family home: Provided, however, That if the said current fair market value exceeds One million pesos (P1,000,000), the excess shall be subject to estate tax. This deduction shall be supported by a Certificate by the barangay captain of the locality.

9.    Standard Deduction. - An amount equivalent to One million pesos (P1,000,000).

10. Medical Expenses. - Medical Expenses not exceeding Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000) incurred by the decedent within one (1) year prior to his death which shall be duly substantiated with receipts.

11.  Amount Received by Heirs Under Republic Act No. 4917. - Any amount received by the heirs from the decedent - employee as a consequence of the death of the decedent-employee in accordance with Republic Act No. 4917: Provided, That such amount is included in the gross estate of the decedent.

Watch out for my next blog for allowable deductions in case the decedent is a non-resident of the Philippines.

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