IRS Details Tax Returns Filed for Largest Estates in 2007

One in five made charitable bequests

About 37,000 estate tax returns were filed for people who died in 2007 with total gross estates of $2 million or more, the filing threshold for that year, according to the summer 2011 issue of the Statistics of Income Bulletin released Friday by the IRS. A combined $224.8 billion in total assets was reported on these returns.

These decedents represented 1.5% of adult deaths during 2007, according to the bulletin.

The SOI reported that publicly traded stock was the 2007 decedents’ largest asset class, accounting for $56 billion, or 24.9%, of their combined asset portfolio. Investment real estate, tax-exempt bonds, cash and closely held stock accounted for another 41.3% of their combined portfolio.

Bequests to a surviving spouse and to charity made up most of the deductions claimed against total gross estate. Forty-seven percent of tax returns filed for 2007 decedents included a deduction for a spousal bequest. Combined, this amounted to $65.8 billion. Twenty percent included a charitable deduction, resulting in combined deductions of $27.9 billion.

After accounting for marital, charitable and other deductions and credits, about 45% of 2007 decedent returns reported an estate tax liability, for a combined net estate tax of $24.6 billion.

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