Maine Estate Tax

Your estate will owe Maine estate tax only if it's worth more than $5.45 million.

For deaths in 2016, Maine taxes only estates worth more than $5.45 million. This $5.45 million exemption is a big jump from previous years--for deaths in 2015, estate tax was due on estates worth more than $2 million. 

The 2016 exemption of $5.45 million matches the exemption for federal estate tax. So for deaths in 2016, if you owe one tax, you probably owe both. Maine maximum estate tax rate (12%), however, is much lower than the federal estate tax rate (40%).

Filing the Maine Estate Tax Return -- For Deaths Prior to 2016

For deaths prior to 2016, the personal representative of the estate is required to file a Maine estate tax return, even if no tax was due.

The state’s estate tax is assessed on the estates of Maine residents, and also on assets that nonresidents owned in Maine, including real estate or other tangible items in the state.

Estates are divided into two groups, based on value:

Gross value of more than $2 million. These estates file a regular Maine estate tax return (Form 706ME). If deductions reduce the amount of the taxable estate to below $2 million, the estate won’t owe tax. A tax return must be filed, however.

Gross value of up to $2 million. Even though no tax will be due, these estates must file an estate tax return—a shorter “EZ” version of the regular Maine estate tax return. It must be filed to remove an automatic tax lien (legal claim) on all Maine property in the estate, including real estate and other items physically located in the state. Assets can’t be transferred to the people who inherit them until the lien is removed, showing that the government doesn’t have a claim against the asset for unpaid taxes.

Even if the estate is not large enough file a federal estate tax return, the personal representative must still prepare and file one with the Maine return.

At the time of this update (January 2016), Maine had not yet posted the process for submitting its estate tax return for deaths in 2016. See Maine Revenue Services Estate Tax page for more information. 

Will Your Estate Owe Maine Estate Tax?

Your estate won’t owe Maine estate tax if you leave everything to your spouse; property left to the surviving spouse is exempt from state (and federal) estate tax, no matter what the amount. And it won’t owe tax if the value of the taxable estate, which is the gross estate minus deductions, is smaller than $5.45 million (for deaths in 2016).

The gross estate includes just about everything you own at the time of your death:

  • Bank accounts, certificates of deposit
  • Investment accounts, stocks and bonds
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Life insurance proceeds from policies on your life, unless you didn’t own the policy
  • Retirement account funds
  • Business interests (a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or small corporation)
  • Assets held in a revocable living trust or other trusts you controlled

Paying the Tax

The Maine estate return is due nine months after the death, but estates get an automatic six-month extension. Any tax owed is due nine months after the death, regardless of when the return must be filed. The estate can pay the estimated tax and then pay any unpaid amount (plus interest) when the return is filed.

Maine estate tax returns and information are available from Maine Revenue Services. The personal representative will need to hire an experienced lawyer for advice and for preparation of the return.

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