Rules for Filing Estate Tax Returns In California
After losing a loved one, there are many tasks that need to be accomplished in order to administer his or her estate. There are rules for filing estate tax returns and depending on the size of the estate and the state where your loved one lived, this may include filing estate, gift,
generation-skipping, or inheritance tax returns as well as making arrangements for payment of the applicable taxes.In California, most people who pass away will no longer trigger a state-level estate or inheritance tax. It is still important for loved ones in charge
of administering an estate to familiarize themselves with the rules for filing and laws of this state, however. If you are
filing after some time has passed since the death, you need to be aware of changes in state inheritance law over the years.
California Estate, Inheritance, and Gift Tax Requirements
As you prepare to administer your loved one’s estate, consider the following rules for filing estate tax returns:
- If your loved one passed away on or after January 1, 2005, there is no requirement that you file a California Estate Tax Return.
- If your loved one passed away on or after June 8, 1982, but before January 1, 2005, you are required to file a California Estate Tax Return if you are also required to file a federal estate tax return, also known as Form 706. The California return is filed with the State Controller’s Officer. The federal return is filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
- If your loved one passed away before June 8, 1982, you may need to pay an Inheritance Tax to the State Controller’s Office.
- If your loved one made gifts prior to June 8, 1982, you may need to pay Gift Tax to the State Controller’s Office.
- There is no longer a California Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax after December 31, 2004.
Estate taxes in California are due and payable on or before nine months following the date of death. The person responsible for making sure the tax gets paid is the estate’s executor or personal representative. Failing to file a California Estate Tax Return when one is due may trigger a penalty of 5% per month, up to a maximum of 25%. The unpaid balance of the tax that is owed will also incur interest charges.
To learn more about rules for filing and administering an estate in California, we encourage you to check out our free guide, The Insider’s Guide to California Probate and Trust Administration.