Filing 706 Estate Tax Returns Just for Portability

There are 975,424 federal estate tax returns that should theoretically be filed every year solely to protect the unused exclusion amount of every person who was married at death, calculated as follows:

U.S. population (2012): 313,847,500
Rate of death per thousand: 0.89%

Number of deaths in the United States in 2012: 2,633,181
Percent of all decedents married at time of death: 37%

Number of all decedents married at time of death: 977,274

Number of married decedents with estates > $5,250,000: 1,850 (5,000 x 37%)

Number of married decedents with estates ≤ $5,250,000: 975,424

Any surviving spouse could win the lottery, inherit a large amount, or receive a large settlement from an accident. If the predeceased spouse’s estate did not elect to preserve the DSUEA on a timely filed return, then this exclusion may not be used by the surviving spouse. If the predeceased spouse owned nothing, this could represent an increase in tax of $2,100,000 ($5,250,000 x 40%).