As an executor of my father's estate, can I sell inherited commoditites without incurring a large tax debt for the estate?
State/Country relating to question: Iowa
As the executor of my father's estate, can I sell inherited commoditites without incurring a large tax debt for the estate?
The estate will not pay any tax on these commodities due to the sale of the commodities by the estate. The estate receives the commodities at fair market value at the date of death, not the original purchase price. The estate then passes the commodities to the beneficiaries at FMV at the date of death. If you, the executor, sell the commodities and distribute cash to the beneficiaries instead of the actual commodities then the beneficiaries may have a small gain or loss to report (probably a §1256 gain/loss). The beneficiary would be treated as the one making the sale.
Additionally there should not be any estate taxes due to the "personal estate tax exemption." The personal exemption allows a set dollar amount of property to pass tax free, no matter who inherits it. For deaths in 2011, the individual exemption is $5 million. For deaths in 2012, the exemption goes up to $5.12 million. So if your father's estate is worth less than the exemption amount--as are the estates of more than 99% of the population--it won't owe federal estate taxes. If your father has made taxable gifts during his life, the amount of the personal exemption will be reduced by the amount of those taxable gifts.
Additionally, if your father's estate is less than the personal exemption amount there probably isn't even a tax return filing requirement. See an excerpt below from the estate tax return filing instructions.
a. Whose gross estate, plus adjusted taxable gifts and specific exemption, is more than $5,000,000; or,
b. Whose executor wants to make the election to permit the decedent's surviving spouse to use the decedent's unused exclusion amount, regardless of the size of the decedent's gross estate. See instructions for Part 4, line 4.
To determine whether you must file a return for the estate, add:
The adjusted taxable gifts (as defined in section 2503) made by the decedent after December 31, 1976;
The total specific exemption allowed under section 2521 (as in effect before its repeal by the Tax Reform Act of 1976) for gifts made by the decedent after September 8, 1976; and
The decedent's gross estate valued at the date of death.
If you determine filing a return for the estate is not required, you nonetheless should file a return if you intend to elect to allow the decedent's surviving spouse to use the decedent's unused exclusion amount for estate and gift tax purposes. See instructions for line 4, Part 4-General Information, below, and section 2010(c)(4) and (c)(5).
If his estate is in excess of the personal exemption amount then there are no taxes to be paid by the estate due to you selling the commodities. This sale would be reported by the beneficiaries of the commodities.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.