Which States Do Not Collect a State Estate Tax?

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Most states don't collect an estate tax. They leave this form of taxation to the federal government. The tax is imposed on the value of a decedent's estate over a certain exemption threshold, and the rate can be as high as 40% at the federal level—almost half of what's left of the estate after the exemption is applied. In other words, the government taxes your right to give at least some of your property to others after your death, and the tax comes out of your estate before anything is passed on to your heirs.

The federal government has a relatively high estate tax exemption—$11.7 million as of 2021. Only estates with values in excess of this amount are subject to the tax. Among the 13 states that do collect an estate tax at the state level, the threshold is typically far lower. 

The situation has been anything but stagnant in the millennium, however. Here's a summary of some changes to state estate tax laws that have taken effect since 2000.

Changes to State-Level Estate Taxes 

State legislatures review and amend their estate tax regulations from time to time. Below are examples of some recent changes:

  1. Delaware enacted an estate tax that was only supposed to be effective from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2013, but the state's legislature acted to eliminate the sunset of the tax in the spring of 2013. 
  2. State estate taxes were abolished by legislative action on Jan. 1, 2010, in both Kansas and Oklahoma.
  3. Hawaii enacted a state estate tax effective May 1, 2010, and the law was later tweaked in May 2012 to provide that the estate tax exemption would be tied to the federal estate tax exemption for decedents who died after Jan. 25, 2012.
  4. On Jan. 1, 2010, state estate taxes were repealed in both Illinois and North Carolina due to a temporary repeal of the federal estate tax. Nonetheless, estate taxes came back in both states effective Jan. 1, 2011. North Carolina later turned around and repealed the tax again, retroactively to Jan. 1, 2013.
  5. In several states, including New Hampshire and Virginia, bills were defeated in 2009 that would have enacted a state estate tax.
  6. Effective Jan. 1, 2010, Rhode Island's estate tax exemption increased to $850,000 and it was indexed for inflation thereafter, meaning that it can gradually increase to correspond with the state of the economy in any given year. As of 2021, it had increased to $1.6 million. 
  7. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, Vermont's estate tax exemption increased to $2.75 million.
  8. Under Ohio budget laws, the estate tax was repealed as of Jan. 1, 2013.
  9. Oregon's estate tax rates changed on Jan. 1, 2012. Estates valued between $1 million and $2 million paid slightly less in estate taxes, and estates valued over $2 million paid more. Ballot Measure 84, which would have repealed Oregon's estate tax, was defeated in November 2012.
  10. Illinois' estate tax exemption increased to $3.5 million effective Jan. 1, 2012, then to $4 million effective Jan. 1, 2013.
  11. Maine's estate tax exemption increased to $2 million on Jan. 1, 2013.
  12. In July 2013, North Carolina's estate tax was again repealed, this time retroactively to Jan. 1, 2013.
  13. Washington's $2 million estate tax exemption was indexed for inflation beginning in 2014. It's $2.2 million as of 2021. 
  14. Tennessee repealed its estate tax effective 2016.
  15. New Jersey phased out its estate tax. Barring further legislation to change that, the tax was eliminated as of 2018.

States That Do Not Collect State Estate Taxes

Here is the list of the jurisdictions that do not impose a state estate tax as of 2021:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Florida
  8. Georgia
  9. Idaho
  10. Indiana
  11. Iowa
  12. Kansas
  13. Kentucky
  14. Louisiana
  15. Michigan
  16. Mississippi
  17. Missouri
  18. Montana
  19. Nebraska
  20. Nevada
  21. New Hampshire
  22. New Jersey
  23. New Mexico
  24. North Carolina
  25. North Dakota
  26. Ohio
  27. Oklahoma
  28. Pennsylvania
  29. South Carolina
  30. South Dakota
  31. Tennessee
  32. Texas
  33. Utah
  34. Virginia
  35. West Virginia
  36. Wisconsin
  37. Wyoming

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax advice, please consult with an accountant. The information contained in this article is not tax advice and is not a substitute for tax advice.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Internal Revenue Service. "Estate Tax."

  2. The Tax Foundation. "State Inheritance Taxes."

  3. North Carolina Legislature. "Chapter 105. Taxation. SUBCHAPTER I. LEVY OF TAXES."

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