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George Steinbrenner’s Heirs Inherit $1 Billion Tax Free

This article was written by in Taxes. 6 comments.


Whether or not you believe the New York Yankees have seen successful years because of or in spite of the team’s fabled owner, George Steinbrenner, you have to admit he has good, though of course unfortunate, timing. If the tax laws don’t change, or if they do change but are not deemed retroactive, through his recent passing he saved his heirs and perhaps the Yankees organization as much as $500 million. This year, estate taxes are temporarily suspended.

Steinbrenner falls among the 0.3 percent of those who have wealth to pass onto their heirs that would normally be, in other years, subject to the estate tax. Those whose heirs owe this tax reflect a much lower percentage of all Americans, as most of us do not pass on wealth either due to the lack of an estate or the desire to leave the estate as charitable contributions.

Steinbrenner is likely the richest American to pass away so far in this freakish — from a tax perspective — year of 2010. How much his heirs will save depends on the details of his will. Any assets he has left to his wife or to charity would be tax-free, anyway.

I don’t recommend trying to time your demise based on tax laws, particularly when there is a chance those laws might change retroactively.

Did ‘The Boss’ Trump The Ben?, Kevin McCormally, Kiplinger.com, July 14, 2010

Updated January 17, 2011 and originally published July 15, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Tom Dziubek

I’m sure “continuing to purchase lots of high-priced free agents” will be included in the stipulations of his will.

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avatar Mr. Money Smarts

I have no problem with them missing the estate tax – I’m not sure I like it anyway. Being taxed for dying? Really? Hasn’t that money already been taxed?

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avatar Evan

“Steinbrenner is likely the richest American to pass away so far in this freakish — from a tax perspective — year of 2010″

- I think actually someone died earlier that was richer:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/business/09estate.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

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avatar CH

I don’t think Steinbrenner’s estate should be taxed because the death tax is just wrong and is simply confiscatory at 55%. How many businesses are going to have to be highly leveraged or sold altogether because of this tax since businesses are part of an estate? This is anti-business and anti-wealth in an economic climate where we should be anything but either.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,505 (Platinum)

How many businesses? Very few if any. Particularly not family farms, the favorite common example, though the statistics show that’s pretty much imaginary.

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avatar David C

Of course, remember that there is no stepped-up basis this year either. Steinbrenner’s estate *may* be better off under these circumstances (no stepped-up basis, no estate tax), but I’m sure there are estates out there that would be better under the old rules (estate tax due but stepped-up basis also exists).

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