House Republicans unveiled their proposed tax overhaul on Thursday. The plan seeks to immediately double the estate tax exemption and get rid of the tax altogether in six years.
The estate tax — a tax on cash, real estate, stock or other assets being transferred from one generation to the next — was first introduced in 1916, when it levied a tax of 10 percent on estates valued at $5 million or more. At its peak, it levied a tax of 77 percent on estates worth $10 million or more.
Under current rules, any individual's estate that exceeds $5.49 million in value, or a married couple's estate that exceeds $10.98 million, is taxed up to 40 percent upon the owner's death.
Since the threshold is so high, the very richest Americans are alone in paying the tax.