Monday, December 05, 2005

Thank you Mr. Binger - Single Estate Tax Payment = 1/7 Minnesota's Budget Surplus

Estate Planning, Estate and Inheritance Tax

The State of Minnesota got an unexpected boon this year - to the tune of an unanticipated state estate tax payment of $112 million (note this is just the estate tax payment to Minnesota; the federal estate tax payment would be separate and above). This payment alone put the state into surplus territory for the year - The estate tax payment is so large it equals one-seventh of the state's projected 2006-07 budget surplus of $701 million.

The who's, how's and why's of the situation are sketched below and detailed by the Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune:

Who: James Binger, former chairman of Honeywell, theater entrepreneur and onetime part owner of the football Vikings, who died in November 2004 at age 88.

How: Apparently, Mr. Binger intended to be charitably generous with his estate, but to focus on end-of-life medical research, not to necessarily benefit the State. Shortly before his death he changed a $200 million bequest from a private foundation to a long-time business associate and friend.

Why: A private foundation creates a tax deduction; a friend creates a tax liability. The last minute will modification changed his charitable beneficiary from the foundation to the State of Minnesota - whose residence should give thanks to Mr. Binger for his unexpected holiday gift.

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