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Inheritance and Estate Taxes Overview

The Transfer Inheritance Tax applies to the transfer of all real and tangible personal property located in New Jersey and intangible personal property wherever situated in estates of resident decedents. In estates of nonresident decedents, the tax applies to real property and tangible personal property located in the State of New Jersey.

The Estate Tax is imposed in addition to the Transfer Inheritance Tax on the estates of resident decedents. An Estate Tax is payable if the Inheritance Tax paid to New Jersey is less than the portion of the Federal credit for state death taxes which is attributable to New Jersey property.

The Transfer Inheritance Tax rates depend on the amount received and the relationship between the decedent and the beneficiary. No tax is imposed on class A beneficiaries (father, mother, grandparents, descendants, spouses, civil union partners, or domestic partners). Class C beneficiaries (brother or sister of decedent; husband, wife, or widow(er) of a child of decedent; civil union partner or surviving civil union partner of a child of decedent) are taxed at 11%–16%, with the first $25,000 exempt. Class D beneficiaries (not otherwise classified) are taxed at 15%–16%, with no tax on transfers having an aggregate value of less than $500. Charitable institutions are exempt from tax.

For decedents dying on or before December 31, 2001, the Estate Tax is based upon the credit for state inheritance, estate, succession, or legacy taxes allowable under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code in effect on the decedent’s date of death. For decedents dying after De¬cember 31, 2001, the Estate Tax is based upon the credit for state inheritance, estate, succession, or legacy taxes allowable under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2001.

During 2001 there was no Federal estate tax due on Federal estates of less than $675,000. Under the provisions of the Federal Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), the applicable Federal exclusion amounts were increased to:

2002 and 2003  $ 1.0 Million
2004 and 2005   1.5 Million
2006, 2007, and 2008   2.0 Million
2009   3.5 Million
2010   Tax Repealed

The New Jersey Estate Tax exclusion was frozen at the 2001 level for decedents dying in 2002 and thereafter. The Estate Tax is an amount equal to the Federal credit for inheritance, estate, succession, and legacy taxes allowable under provisions of the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2001. A reduction is permitted for that portion of the credit which is attributable to property located outside New Jersey plus any Inheritance Tax paid to New Jersey.

Exemptions From Transfer Inheritance Tax

  • All transfers having an aggregate value under $500;
  • Life insurance proceeds paid to a named beneficiary;
  • Charitable transfers for the use of any educational institution, church, hospital, orphan asylum, public library, etc.;
  • Transfers for public purposes made to New Jersey or any political subdivision thereof;
  • Federal civil service retirement benefits payable to a beneficiary other than the estate, executor, or administrator;
  • Annuities payable to survivors of military retirees; and
  • Qualified employment annuities paid to a surviving spouse, civil union partner, or domestic partner.

Disposition of Revenues
Revenues are deposited in the State Treasury for general State use.

New Jersey first imposed an inheritance tax in 1892 at a rate of 5% on property transferred from a decedent to a beneficiary.

In 1909, legislation was enacted which formed the basis of the present Transfer Inheritance Tax (N.J.S.A. 54:33-1 et seq.).

In 1934, legislation was enacted which formed the basis of the Estate Tax (N.J.S.A. 54:38-1 et seq.). On June 30, 1992, the filing date for estate taxes for decedents dying after March 1, 1992, was shortened. The due date had been the later of 18 months after the date of death or 60 days after the Federal notification of Federal estate tax due. The new due date is 9 months after date of death (C. 39, P.L. 1992). Estate taxes are paid by the estate to the extent that inheritance taxes are below the Federal credit for State taxes.

On February 27, 1985, an amendment to the Transfer Inheritance Tax Act (C. 57, P.L. 1985) eliminated from taxation transfers from decedents to surviving spouses (retroactive to January 1, 1985) and to other Class A beneficiaries on a phased-out basis through July 1, 1988. On July 1, 1988, other Class A beneficiaries became totally exempt from the tax. Class C beneficiaries were granted a $25,000 exemption effective on July 1, 1988.

In July 2002, legislation (C. 31, P.L. 2002) was enacted changing the manner in which Estate Tax is computed for the estates of decedents dying after December 31, 2001. Under the changes made to the Federal estate tax law, New Jersey’s Estate Tax would have been phased out over a three-year period.

P.L. 2003, C. 246, the Domestic Partnership Act, recognized domestic partnerships and provided certain rights and benefits to individuals participating in them. The Act made significant changes to the New Jersey Inheritance Tax for individuals dying on or after July 10, 2004. Transfers made to a surviving domestic partner were made exempt from the Inheritance Tax.

P.L. 2004, C. 132, enacted August 31, 2004, and effective on the 180th day following enactment, makes important changes in the way estates and trusts must be administered. This change would indirectly affect both Inheritance and Estate Tax.

P.L. 2005, C. 331, provides a surviving domestic partner with the same intestacy rights as a surviving spouse. Additionally, a surviving domestic partner now has the right to take an elective share in a deceased partner’s estate, be appointed administrator of the estate, and make funeral arrangements.

P.L. 2006, C. 103, provides a civil union partner with the same rights as a spouse. Surviving civil union partners are exempt from the Inheritance Tax and are entitled to the same New Jersey Estate Tax marital deduction as a surviving spouse.

Last Updated: Friday, 06/17/16

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