Unnecessary Estate Tax Returns: Removing the Residue of the 'Widow's Tax'

Posted: 14 Jan 2002

See all articles by Richard Schmalbeck

Richard Schmalbeck

Duke University School of Law

Jay A. Soled

Rutgers University


One of the most burdensome aspects of estate administration is completion of a Form 706 - the federal estate tax return. When Congress enacted an unlimited marital deduction in 1981, it eliminated the so-called widow's tax. The vast majority of estates of married decedents consequently owe no estate tax. The authors now propose that Congress finish the job by eliminating the automatic requirement that estates of married decedents whose estate exceeds the applicable estate tax exclusion file estate tax returns. Instead, they suggest, this filing should be required only in those relatively rare instances where an estate tax liability exists. This would roughly halve the number of estate tax returns filed, achieving a significant reduction in compliance burdens, at no significant loss of either revenue or useful tax information.

Suggested Citation

Schmalbeck, Richard L. and Soled, Jay, Unnecessary Estate Tax Returns: Removing the Residue of the 'Widow's Tax'. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=296843

Richard L. Schmalbeck (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7078 (Phone)
919-613-7231 (Fax)

Jay Soled

Rutgers University ( email )

1 Washington Park
Newark, NJ 07901-1825
United States
(973) 353-1727 (Phone)

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