A tax imposed on the transfer of property at an individual’s death. An estate tax is imposed on the deceased individual’s estate, not the estate’s beneficiaries, and must be paid if the estate’s value exceeds the applicable exclusion amount ($5.45 million in 2016). An estate tax is commonly called a “death tax.” An estate tax contrasts with an inheritance tax imposed by certain states on a beneficiary’s receipt of property from an estate. Although these two taxes are closely related, they are importantly distinct. More than 20 states have individual estate taxes that differ from the federal system, so your estate could be subject to a state estate tax even if it is not subject to a federal estate tax.