Tax break saves Steinbrenner heirs millions

The New York Yankees boss benefits from a break in the US tax code.

Posted by Elizabeth Strott Tuesday, July 13, 2010 5:47:36 PM

George Steinbrenner (© Kathy Willens/AP)Chalk up another win for George Steinbrenner: The Yankees owner saved his heirs a whopping $600 million by dying in 2010.

 

The estate tax, which hits the very wealthy, lapsed this year as a quirky part of President George W. Bush's tax cuts that were signed into law in 2001. The 45% estate-tax rate expired at the end of 2009, and the 55% rate does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2011, leaving 2010 wide open for tax-free deaths.

Congress had pledged to fix the 2010 tax gap, but they could not agree to anything at the end of 2009, so Steinbrenner's heirs are left with a big zero of an estate-tax bill. That is, unless Congress includes retroactive elements to the estate tax when they do deal with it.

 

"Not only is the future uncertain, but the past is also. We have no idea what the law is," Ronald Aucutt, an estate-tax attorney with McGuire Woods, told The Wall Street Journal in an article over the weekend about the estate tax. 

 

Another expert had a different opinion. "If you're super-wealthy, it's a good year to die," Jack Nuckolls, an attorney and estate planner with the accounting firm BDO Seidman, told The Associated Press. "It really is."

Forbes estimated Steinbrenner's net worth to be $1.1 billion.

 

Some estimate that this year's tax hiatus could cost the U.S. Treasury Department an estimated $14.8 billion or more in 2010.

 

Steinbrenner owned 55% of the Yankees, which includes the team, the YES Network and the new Yankee Stadium, as well as various homes and a stud farm in Ocala, Fla., according to Forbes. Forbes estimated that the Yankees, which he acquired in 1973 for $10 million, are worth $1.6 billion, but the team is extremely leveraged because of debt from the new stadium.

 

Steinbrenner is survived by his wife, Joan, sons Hank and Hal and daughters Jessica and Jennifer. He also has two sisters and numerous grandkids. Details of his will have not yet been revealed.


Steinbrenner was the fourth billionaire to die this year. In February, Mary Janet Morse Cargill, part of the family that founded the multinational corporation Cargill, died at age 85. Forbes estimated her net worth to be $1.6 billion.

 

Houston oil tycoon Dan Duncan died in March at age 77, leaving behind a $9.8 billion fortune. The lack of estate tax saved his heirs more than $4 billion.

 

Real-estate guru Walter Shorenstein died at 95 last month with a net worth of about $1.1. billion.

Tax break saves Steinbrenner heirs millions

The New York Yankees boss benefits from a break in the US tax code.

Posted by Elizabeth Strott Tuesday, July 13, 2010 5:47:36 PM

George Steinbrenner (© Kathy Willens/AP)Chalk up another win for George Steinbrenner: The Yankees owner saved his heirs a whopping $600 million by dying in 2010.

 

The estate tax, which hits the very wealthy, lapsed this year as a quirky part of President George W. Bush's tax cuts that were signed into law in 2001. The 45% estate-tax rate expired at the end of 2009, and the 55% rate does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2011, leaving 2010 wide open for tax-free deaths.

Congress had pledged to fix the 2010 tax gap, but they could not agree to anything at the end of 2009, so Steinbrenner's heirs are left with a big zero of an estate-tax bill. That is, unless Congress includes retroactive elements to the estate tax when they do deal with it.

 

"Not only is the future uncertain, but the past is also. We have no idea what the law is," Ronald Aucutt, an estate-tax attorney with McGuire Woods, told The Wall Street Journal in an article over the weekend about the estate tax. 

 

Another expert had a different opinion. "If you're super-wealthy, it's a good year to die," Jack Nuckolls, an attorney and estate planner with the accounting firm BDO Seidman, told The Associated Press. "It really is."

Forbes estimated Steinbrenner's net worth to be $1.1 billion.

 

Some estimate that this year's tax hiatus could cost the U.S. Treasury Department an estimated $14.8 billion or more in 2010.

 

Steinbrenner owned 55% of the Yankees, which includes the team, the YES Network and the new Yankee Stadium, as well as various homes and a stud farm in Ocala, Fla., according to Forbes. Forbes estimated that the Yankees, which he acquired in 1973 for $10 million, are worth $1.6 billion, but the team is extremely leveraged because of debt from the new stadium.

 

Steinbrenner is survived by his wife, Joan, sons Hank and Hal and daughters Jessica and Jennifer. He also has two sisters and numerous grandkids. Details of his will have not yet been revealed.


Steinbrenner was the fourth billionaire to die this year. In February, Mary Janet Morse Cargill, part of the family that founded the multinational corporation Cargill, died at age 85. Forbes estimated her net worth to be $1.6 billion.

 

Houston oil tycoon Dan Duncan died in March at age 77, leaving behind a $9.8 billion fortune. The lack of estate tax saved his heirs more than $4 billion.

 

Real-estate guru Walter Shorenstein died at 95 last month with a net worth of about $1.1. billion.

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