"By dying in 2010, the billionaire and long-time New York Yankees owner's wealth avoids the federal estate tax, likely saving his heirs enough money to field an entire team of Alex Rodriguezes."
George Steinbrenner’s death may turn the tide. And I don’t mean for the Yankees. By dying this year, Steinbrenner’s billionaire-estate will pass tax-free to his heirs, thanks to Congressional dallying that has allowed the estate tax to lapse this year. This is the first “gap” in the estate tax since it was enacted in 1916.
I’ve been reading about Steinbrenner’s estate in nearly every news outlet on the internet, but I think The Associated Press explained the situation most succinctly:
Forbes magazine has estimated Steinbrenner's estate at $1.1 billion. The federal estate tax in 2009 was 45 percent, with the $3.5 million per-person exemption. If he had died last year, his estate could thus have faced federal taxes of almost $500 million, depending on how the estate was structured.
Pundits across the country (and across the internet) are saying that Congress will surely take some action now. Steinbrenner is the fourth multi-billionaire to die this year (the others were Dan L. Duncan, Walter Shorenstein and Mary Janet Morse Cargill). It’s hard to deny the significance of such events in a year when there is no estate tax. And Steinbrenner’s celebrity will surely draw Congressional attention to the issue. One way or another, I think we are going to see the estate tax become a hot topic of debate in Washington.