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The following information provides some general information and an example about installment plans consistent with §6166 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).  Please see IRC §6166, as it existed on January 1, 2005, for details.

Though computing estate tax for estates with closely-held businesses is the same as for other estates, an estate with closely-held businesses may defer the payment of estate taxes attributable to the closely-held businesses.

Qualifications to defer estate taxes owed

To qualify for an installment election (as explained in IRC §6166):

  • The decedent must have been a citizen or resident of the United States at death.
  • The decedent’s interest in a closely-held business must exceed 35 percent of the adjusted gross estate.  The term “interest in a closely-held business” means:
    • An interest as proprietor in a trade or business carried on as a proprietor, or
    • An interest as a partner in a partnership carrying on a trade or business, if 20 percent or more of the total capital interest in such partnership is included in determining the gross estate of the decedent, or such partnership had 45 or fewer partners, or
    • Stock in a corporation carrying on a trade or business if 20 percent or more in value of the voting stock of such corporation is included in determining the gross estate, or such corporation had 45 or fewer shareholders.

How much estate tax can be deferred?

A deferral applies only to the amount of tax attributed to the value of the closely-held business as compared to the amount of the adjusted gross estate.  The non-deferred estate tax is due nine months after the decedent’s death.

How do I make an installment election?

An installment election is made on the Washington estate tax return under Part 3 – Elections by the Executor, Line 3.

Adjusted gross estate for installment plans

The “adjusted gross estate” means the gross estate less any allowable deductions under IRC §§2053 or 2054. These allowable deductions generally include funeral expenses, administrative expenses, debts of the decedent and losses (those deductions properly reported on Schedules J–L).

Example of Deferral for a Qualifying Estate:
Gross Estate  
11,000,000
Allowable Deductions (Sch J–L)  
4,000,000
Adjusted Gross Estate  
7,000,000
Attributable to a Closely–Held Business  
3,920,000

3,920,000/7,000,000 = .56 (56% of the tax due can be deferred under an installment election). For this example, if the estate tax due is $1,070,000 then $599,200 is deferrable. The remaining 44% of the tax due must be paid within nine months after the decedent’s date of death ($470,800 non-deferred).