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.

scary looking house on a hill
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unless you’re reading this from the deck of your superyacht, you probably don’t have to worry about federal estate taxes. In 2023, only estates worth $12.92 million or more ($25.84 million or more for a married couple) are hit by federal estate taxes, and only a small percentage of Americans have accumulated that much wealth. 

State taxes are another story. Although a number of states have reduced or eliminated their estate and inheritance taxes over the past decade to dissuade well-off retirees from moving to more tax-friendly jurisdictions, 12 states and Washington, D.C., still impose an estate tax, and six states have an inheritance tax on the books. Maryland has both. An estate tax is levied on the estate of the deceased, while an inheritance tax is paid by heirs who are subject to the tax (spouses are usually exempt).

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.