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What You Need to Know About the Colorado Estate Tax

There is no estate tax in Colorado. Depending on the size of your estate, you may still owe estate tax to the federal government due to the federal estate tax. If you’re dealing with estate planning or are looking to get your finances and investments in order, some professional help could be in order. SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor tool can help you find a financial advisor in your area.

Colorado Estate Tax

There is no estate tax in Colorado. It is one of 38 states with no estate tax.

What Is the Estate Tax?

The estate tax is levied on an estate after a person has died, but before the money is passed on to their heirs. It is sometimes referred to as the “death tax.”

The estate tax is different from the inheritance tax. That tax is levied after the money has passed on to the heirs of the recently deceased.

Colorado Inheritance Tax and Gift Tax

What You Need to Know About the Colorado Estate Tax

There is no inheritance tax in Colorado. Some states might charge an inheritance tax if the decedent dies in the state even if the heir lives elsewhere. In Kentucky, for instance, inheritance tax must be paid on any property in the state, even if the heir lives elsewhere.

Colorado also has no gift tax. The federal gift tax exemption is $15,000 per recipient per year for 2021 and $16,000 per recipient per year for 2022.

Federal Estate Tax

Even though there is no estate tax in Colorado, you may still owe the federal estate tax. The exemption for that tax is $11.70 million  for deaths in 2021 and $12.06 million in 2022. This tax is portable for married couples. That means that if the right legal steps are taken, a married couple can protect up to $24.12 million when both spouses die.

If an estate tax exceeds that amount, the top federal tax rate is 40%. A full chart of federal estate tax rates is below.

Here’s an example of how it works: Say your estate is worth $14 million and you aren’t married. Let’s consider an estate worth $14 million that belongs to an unmarried individual. To determine the total estate tax burden, you’ll first need to subtract the $12.06 million exemption, leaving a taxable estate of $1.94 million. The first $1 million has a base tax payment of $345,800. An additional 40% is owed on the remaining $940,000 million, which totals $376,000. Add that figure to the base rate and you’ll get the total estate tax burden for this estate, which is $721,800.

Taxable Estate* Base Taxes Paid Marginal Rate Rate Threshold**
$1 – $10,000 $0 18% $1
$10,000 – $20,000 $1,800 20% $10,000
$20,000 – $40,000 $3,800 22% $20,000
$40,000 – $60,000 $8,200 24% $40,000
$60,000 – $80,000 $13,000 26% $60,000
$80,000 – $100,000 $18,200 28% $80,000
$100,000 – $150,000 $23,800 30% $100,000
$150,000 – $250,000 $38,800 32% $150,000
$250,000 – $500,000 $70,800 34% $250,000
$500,000 – $750,000 $155,800 37% $500,000
$750,000 – $1 million $248,300 39% $750,000
Over $1 million $345,800 40% $1 million

*The taxable estate is the total above the federal exemption of $12.06 million.
**The rate threshold is the point at which the marginal estate tax rate kicks in.

Overall Colorado Tax Picture

What You Need to Know About the Colorado Estate Tax

Colorado is a fairly tax-friendly state for retirees. Social Security, retirement accounts and pensions are all partially taxed. Colorado has a flat income tax rate of 4.50%. Three cities in Colorado also have a local income tax. Our free Colorado paycheck calculator can help figure out what your take home pay in the Centennial State will be.

Property taxes in Colorado are among the lowest in the country, with an average effective rate of just 0.40%. The statewide sales tax in Colorado is just 2.9%, but with local sales taxes the statewide average is 7.72%. Marijuana is legal in Colorado, and the tax on marijuana purchases is 15%.

Estate Planning Tips

  • Planning an estate, in Colorado or elsewhere, isn’t easy. If you’re beginning this process – or in the midst of it – you might want to consider getting professional advice in the form of a financial advisor. You’ll want to make sure, though, that the financial advisor you are using is the right one for you. SmartAsset can help make sure you’re on the right track. SmartAdvisor is a free financial advisor matching service. First, we’ll ask you a few questions about your life and finances and then match you with up to three advisors who will get in contact with you. The advisors on our platform have been fully vetted and have records clean of disclosures.
  • When planning your estate, you’ll want to know exactly how much money you’ll have saved when you retire. Use SmartAsset’s Social Security calculator to see just how much you’ll be getting from the government once you retire.
  • Above all else, make sure you have a plan for your estate. Even if you’re young, think about what you want to have happen once you die. Hopefully it doesn’t get used for a long time, but having an estate plan can give you and your family peace of mind.

Photo credit: ©, SmartAsset, ©

Ben Geier, CEPF® Ben Geier is an experienced financial writer currently serving as a retirement and investing expert at SmartAsset. His work has appeared on Fortune, and CNNMoney. Ben is a graduate of Northwestern University and a part-time student at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). When he isn’t helping people understand their finances, Ben likes watching hockey, listening to music and experimenting in the kitchen. Originally from Alexandria, VA, he now lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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