18 States With Scary Death Taxes

Federal estate taxes are no longer a problem for all but the extremely wealthy, but several states have their own estate taxes and inheritance taxes that could still hit your heirs.

Grim Reaper in a fog-covered cemetery
(Image credit: Getty Images )

Most people shouldn't be afraid of federal "death taxes." For 2022, only estates worth $12.06 million or more ($24.12 million or more for a married couple) are slashed by federal estate taxes, and only a small percentage of Americans have accumulated that much wealth. Plus, there's no federal inheritance tax to spook your heirs. (Estate taxes are paid by the estate and based on the estate's overall value, while inheritance taxes are paid by an individual heir on whatever property they inherit.)

But don't feel too comfy if your assets are below the federal estate tax threshold — a tax bill from your state could be lurking in the shadows. While a number of states have reduced or eliminated their death taxes over the past decade or so to dissuade well-off retirees from moving to more tax-friendly jurisdictions, 12 states and the District of Columbia still impose an estate tax and six states have an inheritance tax on the books. (Maryland has both!) So if you don't know boo about death taxes and live in one of the states listed (alphabetically) below, beware. Your heirs could be haunted by a state tax collector.

Bob Niedt
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.