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Executor of will fights estate tax issues in circuit court

An Illinois man who is fighting state-mandated retroactive estate tax will be allowed to pursue his case in circuit court, according to a recent decision from a state appeals panel. The man has been fighting estate tax issues since 2011. He is the executor of an estate valued at $5 million – and he argues that it was unfairly taxed.

The plaintiff’s problems all began in 2011, after the death of the woman whose property he was bound to distribute. At the time that the woman died, on Jan. 9, 2011, there had been no estate tax in the state of Illinois for about a year. Four days after the woman died, the tax was reinstated, retroactive to estates for people who had died after Dec. 31, 2010. The executor ended up paying about $423,000 in tax and interest, but he argued that he was pressured into giving up the money to avoid further penalties.

The executor argued that the taxes and penalties were unconstitutional under state and federal law. His case had been relegated to the Court of Claims based on the legal argument presented by the state. However, another judicial body recently determined that his case might be more appropriate for the circuit courts. Those courts will work to determine whether the state violated statutory or constitutional law in reenacting the estate tax.

This case illustrates the unpredictability that can sometimes accompany property transfer. Estate tax is tied to state and federal legislation, which means that it can be somewhat volatile, depending on the political climate. Enlisting the help of a qualified attorney to help you navigate the legal system can help protect your estate against unfair taxation.

Source: Cook County Record, “IL appeals panel: Man can challenge constitutionality of state’s retroactive estate tax bill,” Dan Churney, April 17, 2017

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