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Marital Deduction Questions

What is a marital deduction?

The marital deduction is a tax deduction from an estate tax that is technically utilized by the estate or trust into which the assets of a married person is passed when he or she dies. Tax Experts on JustAnswer can help answer your questions concerning marital deductions as well as explain how it is different from gift tax marital deduction, estate tax marital deduction, etc.

Can a marital deduction be claimed against income or through beneficiaries?

In most situations marital deductions cannot be claimed against income or somehow passed through to beneficiaries. A marital deduction is a deduction that is available only against estate tax payable by the estate or trust.

Is there a marital deduction for a spouse married to a non-US citizen?

There is normally no marital deduction for a spouse of a non-US citizen. However, the exemption of the deceased person is the same regardless of the beneficiary, so it's only an issue for an estate that is over the allowable exemption amount. If it is over the exemption amount, tax free lifetime gifts can be made to the non-US citizen spouse ($100,000 per year). This is one way to transfer the property to the non-US citizen spouse and not use up the estate tax exemption available at death.

What is the limit someone can gift before it affects the marital deductions?

Generally a citizen spouse may gift up to $100,000 of assets to a non-citizen spouse free of gift tax. However, for estate tax purposes, any assets left to a non-citizen spouse will not qualify for the marital deduction. Accordingly, to the extent such assets when combined with the rest of the taxable estate exceeds $2,000,000 ( i.e. in 2006-2008) it will be subject to estate tax on the death of the citizen spouse. This situation is normally dealt with through the use of a Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT). Generally, this trust requires at least one trustee to be a U.S. citizen or corporation who will be responsible for ensuring that all taxes due are paid prior to any assets leaving the country.

Is it true that you can give money to a spouse and it is not taxable?

Transfers between spouses are 100% deductible for Gift Tax purposes. This is known as the "unlimited Gift Tax marital deduction". However, the value of the gift, whether it was for a future or present interest, is included in the giver's gross estate on death in order for the deduction to apply. If the gross estate does not include the transfers to the spouse, no marital deduction applies.

Marital deduction is perhaps the best-known estate tax reducer however; it also is among the most misused deduction and can also trigger higher taxes or other headaches. If you are having questions on how to use the marital deduction and are not sure where to turn for credible and expert answers, Tax Experts on JustAnswer can help answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
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