Estate Tax FAQ

  1. Do I have to file a Maine estate tax return?
  2. How do I file for an extension?
  3. How do I request a lien release for real and tangible personal property in an estate?
  4. Does Maine conform to the federal law and regulations regarding the alternate valuation date?
  5. Is the federal value of an estate automatically accepted as its value for Maine purposes?
  6. The IRS gives a credit for tax paid on recently inherited assets. Does Maine have a similar credit?
  7. If a nonresident decedent owns property in Maine and the property qualifies for the estate tax marital deduction, is a Maine return required?
  8. Can I ask to have interest and penalties waived?
  9. Maine property in a trust, LLC or pass-through entity is included in the estate of a nonresident decedent. What Maine property held by the trust, LLC or pass-through entity is sourced to Maine under 36 M.R.S. § 4104?

1. Do I have to file a Maine estate tax return?

If you answer “yes” to either question A or B below, you must file a Maine estate tax return as provided below.

A) Is a federal estate tax return required?

If a federal Form 706 is required, then a Maine estate tax return (Form 706ME) is also required if (1) the decedent was a Maine resident at the time of death or (2) the decedent was a nonresident and owned real and/or tangible personal property located in Maine at the time of death. (Note: Generally, when property is owned by a pass-through entity, the entity must be disregarded and the property must be treated as personally owned by the nonresident decedent. See 36 M.R.S. § 4104.)

B) Does the value of the federal gross estate plus taxable gifts made within one year of the date of death plus Maine elective property exceed the Maine filing requirement threshold listed below? (Note: The estate of a nonresident decedent must use the total value of the federal gross estate to make this calculation, not just the value of real and/or tangible personal property located in Maine.)

If Yes, a Maine estate tax return (Form 706ME) is required if (1) the decedent was a Maine resident at the time of death or (2) the decedent was a nonresident and owned real and/or tangible personal property located in Maine at the time of death. (Note: Generally, when property is owned by a pass-through entity, the entity must be disregarded and the property must be treated as personally owned by the nonresident decedent. See 36 M.R.S. § 4104.)

C) If the answer is No to both A and B above, but the decedent owned real and/or tangible personal property located in Maine at the time of death, the estate should submit Statement 700-SOV with a completed Certificate of Discharge of Estate Tax Lien to request a release of the automatic lien placed on that property at the time of death. For more information on requesting a lien release, see FAQ #3 below.

History of Maine Exclusion Amounts

Year Maine Estate Tax Exclusion Amount – Filing Threshold
2021 $5,870,000
2020 $5,800,000
2019 $5,700,000
2018 $5,600,000
2017 $5,490,000
2016 $5,450,000
2015 $2,000,000
2014 $2,000,000
2013 $2,000,000
2012 $1,000,000
2011 $1,000,000
2010 $1,000,000
2009 $1,000,000
2008 $1,000,000
2007 $1,000,000
2006 $1,000,000
2005 $950,000
2004* $850,000
2003* $700,000
2002* Conformity**
2000-2001 Conformity**
1999 Conformity**
1998 Conformity**
1987-1997 Conformity**
1986 Conformity**

* From 1986 through 2002, Maine’s estate tax was based on the federal state death tax credit, except that Maine did not conform to the phase-down of the federal state death tax credit that began in 2002.  From 2003 through 2012, the Maine estate tax was based on a Maine state death tax credit amount calculated on the basis of the Maine exclusion amount.

** From 1986 through 2002, Maine conformed to the federal exclusion amounts through the use of the federal state death tax credit for Maine estate tax purposes. 

If an estate is subject to the probate process in Maine, you may be required to file Statement 700-SOV or Form 706ME, even though taxes are not owed. The probate court may require a copy of an official letter from Maine Revenue Services certifying that an estate tax return has been filed (Certification of Filing) and that any tax due has been paid (Certification of Payment).

Rev. 08/13/2021

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2. How do I file for an extension?

If you are unable to file an estate tax return within nine months of the date of death, Maine allows an automatic six-month extension of time to file. If you received an extension to file your federal return, Maine allows an extension for the same period. However, payment estimating the tax due must be made by the original due date of the return. When making an estimated payment prior to filing a return, send a copy of the federal Form 4768 with the payment.

A request for an extension in addition to the automatic six-month period must be submitted in writing prior to the expiration of the automatic six-month extension period. Generally, the total extension period cannot exceed eight months.

CAUTION: An extension to file the Maine estate tax return is not an extension for the payment of tax. If the estate owes tax, a payment estimating the amount due must be paid by the original due date for filing the return in order to avoid a failure to pay penalty. Interest is charged on any unpaid tax after the original due date of the return. (Note: certain estates consisting largely of interest in a closely held business may qualify to request an extension of time for the payment of the Maine estate tax. See 36 M.R.S. § 4109.)

Rev. 02/04/2021

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3. Do I have to request a lien discharge? If so, how do I request a lien discharge for real and tangible personal property in an estate?

When someone owning Maine real or tangible personal property dies, Maine estate tax law places an automatic lien on that property. To request a release of the lien, the representative must take the following steps:

1) Complete an appropriate Certificate of Discharge of Estate Tax Lien (either or both for real or tangible personal property). The Registry of Deeds for the county in which the property is located will be able to help if you do not have the proper book and page numbers for the property’s deed reference.

2) Complete Form 706ME or Statement 700-SOV, as appropriate.

3) Submit the completed form, including documentation of value if required, with the appropriate Certificate of Discharge of Estate Tax Lien.

4) Make sure to include any payment due with the return (Form 706ME only). The return must show that all tax, interest, and penalties are being, or have been, paid.

5) The Certificate of Discharge of Estate Tax Lien, signed by the State Tax Assessor, will be mailed back to you. Bring the original document to the county Registry of Deeds and they will record the lien release.

For a list of the county Registries of Deeds, go to: https://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/ucc/county.pdf (PDF).

Rev. 01/23/2020

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4. Does Maine conform to the federal law and regulations regarding the alternate valuation date?

Yes. Maine accepts the federal alternate valuation date, even for gap estates. Alternate valuation is not automatic. It must be elected by checking the box for the alternate valuation election on page 2 of federal Form 706. The election, once made, cannot be changed. When filing the Maine estate tax return, a copy of the entire federal return or pro forma return must be attached. Also, write “Alternate Valuation Date Elected” across the top of Form 706ME.

Rev. 6/25/12

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5. Is the federal value of an estate automatically accepted as its value for Maine purposes?

No. Maine law provides that where an estate has a federal tax liability, the federal value will be the value for Maine purposes unless the State Tax Assessor determines a different value. For estates with no federal filing, the Assessor will determine the value of the estate in accordance with principles of federal tax law.

Rev. 9/30/13

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6. The IRS gives a credit for tax paid on recently inherited assets. Does Maine have a similar credit?

No. Maine law does not provide a credit for Maine estate tax previously paid by another estate on the same property.

Rev. 9/30/13

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7. If a nonresident decedent owns property in Maine and the property qualifies for the estate tax marital deduction, is a Maine return required?

Yes, if the federal gross estate plus taxable gifts made within one year of the date of death plus Maine elective property is equal to or greater than the Maine exclusion amount, regardless of whether the property is included in the marital deduction. For Maine exclusion amounts, see FAQ #1.  

Rev. 01/23/2020

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8. Can I ask to have interest and penalties waived?

Yes. The State Tax Assessor shall waive penalties on a showing of reasonable cause as provided by 36 M.R.S. § 187-B (7). The State Tax Assessor may waive interest in certain unusual circumstances. However, these cases are very rare. You can ask for reconsideration of interest and penalty charges in writing within 60 days of receiving an assessment. Use the Petition for Reconsideration form available on the general forms page for this purpose. Reasonable cause includes, but is not limited to, erroneous information provided by MRS, death or serious illness of the taxpayer or member of the taxpayer's immediate family or a natural disaster.

Rev.  01/23/2020

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9. Maine property in a trust, LLC or pass-through entity is included in the estate of a nonresident decedent. What Maine property held by the trust, LLC or pass-through entity is sourced to Maine under 36 M.R.S. § 4104?

Generally, Maine property held by a pass-through entity is sourced to Maine, if included in a nonresident decedent's estate, and:

1) The entity does not carry on a business for the purpose of profit and gain;

2) The ownership of the property in the entity was not for a valid business purpose; or

3) The property was acquired by other than a bona fide sale for full and adequate consideration and the decedent retained a power with respect to or interest in the property that would bring the real or tangible personal property located in this state within the decedent’s adjusted federal gross estate.

See MRS Rule 603 for further, more comprehensive, information.

Rev. 02/26/15

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