Skip to Main Content

Stafford Smiley Comments on Changes to the Estate Tax in the House Tax Bill

November 20, 2017, Tax Notes

Ahead of a weeklong hiatus in Congress, a panel of Georgetown University Law School professors took stock of the progress on tax reform, highlighting areas where rhetoric didn't quite match reality and where the House and Senate bills differ.

. . .

It’s a Wonderful Death

Changes to the estate tax in the House bill, which would first double the exemptions before repealing it outright, would provide a significant benefit to a very small subset of the population, said professor Stafford Smiley, also of Caplin & Drysdale, Chtd. He added that the estimated effect would be $172 billion less in revenue over 10 years.

But when this tax reduction is combined with the “analytically unsupportable refusal to eliminate step-up in basis at death . . . dying would be wonderful,” said Smiley. There would be no income tax on assets, and all of the appreciated assets would go to the decedent’s children without any transfer tax, he explained. He noted that the Senate’s proposal doesn’t go that far, choosing to retain the overall tax but doubling the exemptions.

To view the full article, please visit Tax Notes’ website (subscription required).

Excerpt taken from the article “Tax Professors Evaluate GOP Tax Bills’ Quirks” by Jonathan Curry for Tax Notes.


About Caplin & Drysdale
Celebrating our 55th Anniversary in 2019, Caplin & Drysdale continues to be a leading provider of legal services to corporations, individuals, and nonprofits throughout the United States and around the world. We are also privileged to serve as legal advisors to accounting firms, financial institutions, law firms, and other professional services organizations.

The firm's reputation over the years has earned us the trust and respect of clients, industry peers, and government agencies. Moreover, clients rely on our broad knowledge of the law and our keen insights into their business concerns and personal interests. Our lawyers' strong tactical and problem-solving skills -- combined with substantial experience handling a variety of complex, high stakes, matters in a boutique environment -- make us one the nation's most distinctive law firms.

With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., Caplin & Drysdale's core practice areas include:
For more information, please visit us at
Washington, DC Office:
One Thomas Circle NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
New York, NY Office:
600 Lexington Avenue
21st Floor
New York, NY 10022


This communication does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with you or any other reader. If you require legal guidance in any specific situation, you should engage a qualified lawyer for that purpose. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Attorney Advertising
It is possible that under the laws, rules, or regulations of certain jurisdictions, this may be construed as an advertisement or solicitation.
©2021 Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
All Rights Reserved.

Related Professionals

Related Practice Area(s)