”If you’re super-wealthy, it’s a good year to die,” Jack Nuckolls, an attorney and estate planner with the accounting firm BDO Seidman, told the media. ”It really is.”
By dying in 2010, the billionaire and long-time New York Yankees owner’s wealth avoids the federal estate tax, likely saving his heirs a 55% levy on his assets- amounting to a tax bill of around $600 million.
Mr. Steinbrenner’s death of a heart attack at the age of 80 came during an unplanned year-long gap in the estate tax, the first since it was enacted in 1916. Political wrangling has stalemated efforts in Congress to replace the tax that expired in 2009.
That deprives the government of billions of dollars in annual revenue but represents an unexpected bonanza for those who inherit wealth.
The tax won't be gone for long, though, the 55% tax returns on January 1, 2011.