With the Labor Day holiday in our rear view mirrors, summer is unofficially over, the national elections are less than 60 days away and we have less than four months left in 2020. The strong differences between our nation’s political parties on matters of tax policy are creating uncertainty regarding the direction of the nation’s tax policy following the elections.
If Joe Biden wins the White House and the Democrats achieve a majority in the Senate (and continue their majority in the House of Representatives), the change in control of the levers of tax policy could usher in significant changes to tax laws in 2021. These changes could be retroactive to as early as the beginning of 2021, meaning that the last four months of this year may be your final opportunity to take advantage of current tax policies, exemptions and rates.
For the past year we have shared this possibility and noted how changes in tax policy may require large and impactful decisions, gifts and transactions. We know many wealthy families have been in conversations with us and other advisors about how to respond, and many have developed plans and taken steps in anticipation of changes in the law.
For those who have not yet acted, the time to do so is now. The window of time to discuss options, make impactful decisions, and to draft, review, execute and implement planning is narrowing, especially for planning techniques that take time to implement or require the involvement of third parties. Further adding to the urgency to act now are the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming holiday season and the number of people who will want to make planning changes during this time.
For these reasons I discourage you from postponing any longer your meetings with your advisors, and I discourage further delay or deferral of decisions.
Even if the election results do not portend a dramatically different estate and gift tax environment in 2021, we have found that much of the planning we are doing with our clients in anticipation of possible changes in tax laws should be taking place in any event, especially because the current high exemptions are scheduled to sunset after 2025. The possibility of upcoming changes in policy is simply serving as the catalyst for planning that should take place anyway.
You still have the time to engage in careful, deliberate, thoughtful planning. But the window for doing so is narrowing. For this reason I encourage you to contact us to begin the important work of designing and implementing plans that will be an appropriate response if there are significant changes in tax policy after the elections, and to act before a new Congress and administration can enact changes in the tax laws that limit or restrict your planning options.