Tax Law

Billionaire Dies at a Fortuitous Time

A 77-year-old Texas billionaire’s death two months ago comes at a fortuitous time for his heirs because of a quirk in the U.S. estate tax.

Oil pipeline tycoon Dan Duncan may be the first U.S. billionaire to die within a one-year window of exemption from the estate tax, the New York Times reports.

His reported $9 billion in wealth would have been taxed at a tax rate of at least 45 percent if he had died three months earlier, the story says. If he lived until next year, the tax rate would be 55 percent.

The window was part of an estate tax bill signed into law in 2001. Democrats had sought to eliminate the 2010 window, but failed to reach an agreement in December. Even if a bill passes this year, it’s unclear whether it will be applied retroactively, the story says.

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