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Inheritance Tax, and How to Avoid it

It is difficult to compare international tax rates but the following information is instructive:

  • In the USA the spouse who survives has no obligation to pay. Other bequests over $1.5 US are subject to federal taxation of 45 percent, with additional local taxes pushing this number to over 50% in a number of states. In the time that the current administration was elected at the beginning of January 2001, the threshold was just $675,000, and it's more than doubled in only five years. The USA is now the country with the lowest inheritance tax in the world. You can visit online at to check to inherit taxes rates in your area.

  • In the UK, a spouse who has died has to pay nothing. Other bequests over PS275,000 (EUR396,000 Euro or $483,000 US) are subject to taxation at 40%.

  • In Germany, inheritance tax is payable by the beneficiary. spouses are charged 7% of inheritances that exceed EUR307,000 ($374,000 US), rising to 30% on estates over EUR25.9 million euros ($31.5 million US) on an escalating scale. Non-spouse relatives pay between 12% and 40%, while non-relatives pay 17% – 50% on inheritances that exceed the EUR 307,000 mark ($374,000 US), both increasing in a similar manner on a sliding scale.

  • In France the same way as in Germany the inheritance tax is payable to the person who is the recipient. The spouse who survives is liable for 5% of the estates exceeding EUR76,000 ($92,000 US), rising on a sliding scale of 40% for legacies over EUR1.776 million euros ($2.162 million US). Other relatives pay at the same rates, but with a lesser tax-free allowance. Non-relatives are able to pay up to 60%, with nearly no tax-free allowance.