Professor Bridget Crawford on U.S. Estate Taxation of Non-Citizens

Professor Bridget Crawford, Professor of Tax at Pace Law School, discusses the U.S. estate taxation of non-citizen, non-residents who have U.S. situated assets. Professor Crawford on Estate Tax of Non-Citizen, Non-Resident


  1. I’m not sure if the estate tax itself would prevent people from wanting to become citizens, since it is the lack of citizenship/residency that puts them in this position. It actually would be to their benefit to become a citizen, because the exemption limit for estate property is set at $60,000 for non-residents, but raised drastically for US citizens to $5,000,000. I do agree though, that this could prevent people from wanting to own assets here, since the cost for this privilege is huge. This would certainly be a negative for our economy. There are exceptions to these rules (securities, artwork), but like you said, this would require hiring an American attorney to help you figure out how to manage everything. Our tax laws can be complex for people who have lived here their whole lives, so I’m sure that this would be even more difficult for non-citizens.
    I’m not entirely sure how the process works, but I’m assuming that the US based assets would have to go through probate court. This would certainly affect judicial economy and add to the backlog of work for the courts. If non-residents weren’t subject to this rule, this could have a negative effect on the court system.

  2. In her easy-to-understand, comprehensive yet concise Podcast on the U.S. estate tax and non-U.S. residents/citizens, Professor Crawford makes a valid point that these laws will increasingly have more influence and relevance in today’s highly globalized society. It could pose more of an issue as it becomes increasingly hard to become a United States citizen (, or, perhaps because of our faltering economy, more people will choose not to become one. In fact, will this economy encourage more non-U.S. residents and non-U.S. citizens to buy and own land and assets here? The issue is of further importance in that non-U.S. citizens or residents, who do not have nearly as much familiarity with U.S. laws or, perhaps, the easy access to the relevant information, will certainly need to rely on the expertise of American lawyers who do.

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