Kentucky Inheritance Tax Laws

a close up of the definition of inheritance tax in a dictionary
••• AlasdairJames / Getty Images

Kentucky is currently one of only six states that assess a separate inheritance tax on certain property owned by a Kentucky resident and real estate, and tangible personal property located in Kentucky that is owned by a non-resident.

The other states that collect a state inheritance tax include Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Difference Between Estate Taxes and Inheritance Taxes

While it may just seem to be semantics, there is a real difference between an estate tax and an inheritance tax:

  • An estate tax is charged against the entire estate regardless of who the beneficiaries of the estate may be.
  • An inheritance tax is only charged against the shares of certain beneficiaries of an estate.

Beneficiaries That Are Subject to the Inheritance Tax

Each beneficiary of a Kentucky estate receives an exemption from the inheritance tax based on the beneficiary's degree of relationship to the decedent. Here are the exemptions from the inheritance tax that are currently available under Kentucky law:

  • Class A - Class A beneficiaries include the deceased person's surviving spouse, parents, children (by blood or adopted), grandchildren (by blood or adopted), stepchildren and step-grandchildren (by blood or adopted), brothers and sisters (whole or half), and certain charitable organizations. Class A beneficiaries are ​completely exempt from paying the Kentucky inheritance tax.
  • Class B - Class B beneficiaries include nieces and nephews, half-nieces and half-nephews, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law, aunts and uncles, and great-grandchildren (by blood, by stepchild, or by child adopted during infancy). Class B beneficiaries are eligible for an exemption of $1,000 each.
  • Class C - Class C beneficiaries include anyone not listed above as a Class A or a Class B beneficiary. Class C beneficiaries are eligible for an exemption of $500 each.

Life Insurance Included in the Value of Kentucky Estate

Only life insurance that is payable to the decedent or the decedent's estate is included in the value of a Kentucky estate for state inheritance tax purposes.

What Can Be Deducted

Certain expenses can be deducted from the value of a Kentucky estate, including:

  • Funeral expenses not to exceed $5,000
  • Expenses of administration, including executors'/administrators' commissions, attorneys' fees, appraisers' fees, and court costs
  • Debts of the decedent, including real property taxes that were a lien against the decedent’s property at the date of death
  • The federal estate tax in the proportion which the net estate in Kentucky subject to the federal estate taxes bears

The Kentucky Inheritance Tax Rates

The Kentucky inheritance tax rates are as follows:

  • Class B beneficiaries are subject to an inheritance tax ranging from 4% to 16%
  • Class C beneficiaries are subject to an inheritance tax ranging from 6% to 16%

For a chart showing the inheritance tax brackets, refer to pages 6 and 7 of A Guide to Kentucky Inheritance and Estate Taxes.

Tax Forms That Must Be Filed and When They're Due

If no Kentucky inheritance tax is due and a federal estate tax return (IRS Form 706) is also not required to be filed, then it will not be necessary to file a Kentucky inheritance tax return. Instead, an "Affidavit of Exemption" will be accepted for the final settlement and closing of the administration of an estate.

For estates subject to the Kentucky inheritance tax, a Kentucky Inheritance Tax Return (Form 92A200, 92A202, or 92A205) must be filed and the inheritance tax paid within 18 months of the decedent's date of death, otherwise, interest and penalties will begin to accrue. If the inheritance tax is paid within nine months of the date of death, then a 5% discount is applied.

Additional Information

For more information about Kentucky inheritance taxes, refer to Kentucky Inheritance and Estate Tax Forms and Instructions. You can also write to the Financial Tax Section, Department of Revenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40620, or call them at (502) 564-4810.

The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.