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What You Need to Know About the Washington Estate Tax

Estate tax rates in Washington state are progressive and range from 10% to 20%. The estate tax in Washington applies to estates worth $2.193 million and up. If you’re a Washington resident and you’re starting to think about estate planning, this guide takes a deep dive into everything you need to know. If you think your estate may be subject to the estate tax, you may want to consider consulting a financial advisor. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can pair you with an advisor in your area who fits your specific needs.

Washington Estate Tax Exemption

The threshold for the estate tax in Washington is $2.193 million as of 2021. So if a person’s estate is equal to less than $2.193 million, then it won’t be taxed by Washington state upon the person’s death. If the estate is equal to more than $2.193 million, then the first $2.193 million won’t be subject to the estate tax, but the tax will be applied to the value of the estate above that threshold.

Washington Estate Tax Rate

What You Need to Know About the Washington Estate Tax

Washington’s estate tax is progressive, with a series of increasing rates applying as the value of the estate gets higher.

You can find your taxable estate bracket in the chart below. The base taxes paid is what you owe on money that falls below your bracket. Then see how much your taxable estate exceeds the bottom limit of your bracket. Multiply that number by the marginal rate. Finally, add that amount to the base taxes and you’ll have your total estate tax bill.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your total estate is worth $7 million. With the $2.193 million exemption, your taxable estate equals $4.807 million. Find where that total falls on the chart below. The base taxes are $550,000, keep this number in mind. The bottom of the threshold is $4 million, which you subtract from $4.807 million and get $807,000. That figure multiplied by the marginal rate of 18% is $145,260. That sum ($145,260) plus the base taxes ($550,000) equals $695,260, which is your total Washington estate tax burden.

Taxable Estate* Base Taxes Paid Marginal Rate Rate Threshold**
$0 – $1 million $0 10% $0
$1 million – $2 million $100,000 14% $1 million
$2 million – $3 million $240,000 15% $2 million
$3 million – $4 million $390,000 16% $3 million
$4 million – $6 million $550,000 18% $4 million
$6 million – $7 million $910,000 19% $6 million
$7 million – $9 million $1.1 million 19.5% $7 million
Over $9 Million $1.49 million 20% $9 million

*The taxable estate is the total above the exemption of $2.193 million.
**The rate threshold is the point at which the marginal estate tax rate goes into effect.

What Is the Estate Tax?

The estate tax is a tax levied on the estate of a recently deceased person before their money or property is passed on to their heirs. It is sometimes called the “death tax” and only applies to estates worth a particular amount, which varies by state. It shouldn’t be confused with the inheritance tax, which some states apply to money after it has been inherited.

Washington Inheritance Tax

While there is no inheritance tax in Washington, but another state’s inheritance tax could apply to you. For example, in Pennsylvania, the inheritance tax applies if the dead person lived there, even if the inheritor lives out of state.

Washington Gift Tax

Washington has no gift tax, so you’ll only be subject to the federal gift tax, which says you can give up to $15,000 to discrete individuals without any tax implications in 2021. That number goes up to $16,000 in 2022.

Washington Estate Tax for Married Couples

The Washington estate tax is not portable for married couples. When both spouses die, only one exemption of $2.193 million applies.

Federal Estate Tax

In addition to the Washington estate tax, there is a federal estate tax you may have to pay, but the exemption is much higher. The federal estate tax exemption is $11.70 million in 2021, going up to $12.06 million in 2022. It is portable between spouses. This means that by taking certain legal steps, a couple can protect up to $24.12 million from estate taxes.

The top federal estate tax rate is 40%. By following the same method described in the Washington Estate Tax Rate section and using the table below, you can figure out your federal estate tax burden.

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

Overall Washington Tax Picture

Washington Estate Tax

Washington is a mixed bag when it comes to taxes. To start, Washington has no state income tax, meaning that Social Security, retirement income, pensions and other income sources are not taxed. This makes it one of the friendlier states for retirees. If you’re new to the Evergreen State, you can use our Washington paycheck calculator to see how that lack of state income tax may affect your take home pay.

The state does have very high sales taxes, however. The statewide sales tax rate is 6.5% and when county rates are included, it’s typically between 8% and 10%. Property taxes in Washington are relatively low by national standards. The average effective property tax rate is 0.93%.

Estate Planning Tips

  • If you think you need help with estate planning or any other kind of financial planning, you may want to turn to a professional. A financial advisor will help make sure you are on track to meet your goals. SmartAsset can help you find the right financial advisor for you. SmartAdvisor, our financial advisor matching tool, can pair you with advisors in your area who meet your specific needs. First, you’ll answer a short series of questions about yourself, your finances and what you’re looking for in an advisor, and then our system will match you with up to three advisors. These advisors will be given your information and they’ll contact you to see if you’re interested in working with them. All the advisors on the SmartAdvisor platform have clean records.
  • When you are planning your estate, it’s important to keep track of how much money you’ll be bringing in during your retirement. One of those sources of income is likely to be Social Security. You can use our Social Security calculator to see how much those payments will be.
  • If you want to make sure everything is set for when you do eventually die, a living trust might be the way to go. This will let you transfer the control of some of your assets to a trustee.

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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