MA Estate Tax – Pending Legislation

Dear Friends,

I hope your summer was restorative and rejuvenating. For me, September is a new start and I feel energized to target new goals.

You may have heard that the Massachusetts legislature is contemplating a change to the Massachusetts estate tax and I wanted to provide you with more information about the proposed bill and to get your help. There is power in numbers, so I have included at the bottom of this newsletter a link to text that you can use to contact your state representative to ask that they vote favorably in the passage of this bill.

Currently an estate that exceeds $1M, would be taxed on the entire value of the estate, which makes the current exemption, not a true exemption. For example, today an estate valued at $1.2M would be taxed on the entire value ($1.2M), whereas an estate worth $999,999 would have no estate tax imposed. We refer to the current $1M exemption as having a “cliff” effect because once an estate exceeds $1M, there is an estate tax imposed on the entire estate not just the amount exceeding the $1M.

Bill H.2960 Title: An Act to Raise Estate Tax Threshold to $2M and Eliminate Cliff.

If passed, Bill H.2960 would amend existing estate tax law by adding the following provision:

“For decedents dying after December thirty-first, two thousand twenty-two, no tax shall be imposed pursuant to this subsection that reduces the decedent’s Massachusetts net estate to an amount less than two million dollars.”

Bill H.2960 circumvents the cliff effect by making the maximum tax an estate above $2M can face. The effects of this amendment would be as follows:

  • Raises the MA estate tax exemption threshold from $1M to $2M
  • Eliminates the cliff effect by capping how deeply an estate can be taxed. A taxable estate (>$2M) cannot be reduced below $2M by taxes; the maximum amount an estate can be made to pay in taxes is that which brings its post-tax value to $2M.
  • Examples:
    • If there is an estate worth $2,000,500, the maximum amount of MA estate tax it will pay is $500; any more would bring it below the $2M threshold.
    • An estate is worth $2,000,001. The estate will pay tax on that $1, but no more.
    • An estate is worth $2.5M. The estate will pay a tax percentage on the excess $500k.
    • A $1,999,999 estate would face no taxes


Bill H.2960 is currently under review by the Joint Committee on Revenue. The Joint Committee is obligated to produce a report on the bill with a recommended decision by February 2024 (though extensions may be granted). After the Joint Committee issues its report, the bill will undergo a lengthy discussion voting process in both the House and the Senate. If both chambers vote to pass and enact the bill, it will be passed on to Governor Healey for signing. The law will come into effect 30 days after signing. If passed the bill is likely to go into effect no earlier than mid-late 2024.

Chances of Passing

It seems probable that Bill H.2960 will eventually become law.  While the Joint Committee’s recommendation remains to be seen, the contents of the bill’s hearing reflected favorably on the bill and the efficacy of its strategy to eliminate the cliff effect without excessive costs.

This was corroborated by a retired state and local tax law professor who testified before the Committee, explaining what the estate tax cliff effect was and stating that he felt the system proposed by Bill H.2960 was the most inexpensive and efficient way to eliminate it.

What You Can Do to Help

Contact your legislators and let them know that you support this bill!

Bill H.2960 has the potential to dramatically improve the Massachusetts estate tax system; its impact would be felt by individual citizens and the broader economy alike. It is imperative that the state legislature act quickly to vote these important changes into law. Make sure your Senator and Representative know that their constituents want to see this bill passed!

You can find out who your legislators are and how to contact them here:

You can reach your legislators by phone or by email. Head over to our website for suggestions on what you can say to express your support for Bill H.2960:

I appreciate your help in making a difference in the Commonwealth by helping increase the estate tax exemption and eliminate the cliff effect!



*Many thanks to Gianna McNally, our law clerk and 3L Student at Suffolk University Law School for her research and time to put together this information.