Scaife estate tax payment of $100M filed |

Scaife estate tax payment of $100M filed

Rich Cholodofsky
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
A $100 million check for the payment of an inheritance tax for the estate of Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
A $100 million check for the payment of an inheritance tax for the estate of Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
Joseph R. Lawrence (left) of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, representing the estate of the late Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, delivers a $100 million check to Westmoreland County Register of Wills Michael Ginsburg on Oct. 3, 2014, for the payment of an inheritance tax.

The estate of Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife on Friday paid $100 million in inheritance taxes, “the largest by far” received by the state, a Department of Revenue official said.

Scaife died July 4, a day after his 82nd birthday.

Representatives for his estate made a prepayment for the estimated taxes owed to Pennsylvania at the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

“Today, the executors of Mr. Scaife’s estate made an advance payment of Pennsylvania Inheritance tax in the amount of $100 million. As has been reported, Mr. Scaife had a significant estate. This is the first of several estimated tax payments by the executors until the final amount of the inheritance tax due is determined,” said estate lawyer Yale Gutnick.

The state will receive $99.5 million and Westmoreland County is entitled to $500,000, or the equivalent of 0.13 mill in property taxes. The county’s share will be deposited in the general operating fund, according to Register of Wills Michael Ginsburg.

The final value of the estate has not been set. According to his will, filed in July, the Tribune-Review’s late owner bequeathed his estate to two foundations, a trust, an art museum and a conservancy.

Inheritance taxes are paid on an estimated value of the estate, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell of the Department of Revenue.

“For all the years we still have data for, the (previous) largest inheritance tax payment was in the neighborhood of $20 million,” Brassell said.

Last year, the state collected $877.4 million in inheritance taxes.

State officials in July had estimated receiving more than $934 million in inheritance taxes for the current fiscal year. The tax paid by the Scaife estate would equal more than 10 percent of the yearly estimated total.

Brassell said the state expects to receive on average about $90 million a month from inheritance taxes.

State officials said inheritance tax collections have lagged this year, down by $9.8 million through the first three months of the current fiscal year.

Estate taxes are determined by a sliding scale and how money is anticipated to be handed out to inheritors.

The Revenue Department turns over the money to the state’s general fund.

Gov. Tom Corbett in July signed a $29.1 billion state budget.

“An unexpected windfall of $100 million would help to mitigate some of the risk (of) some budget uncertainties, like the $125 million of gaming license fee revenue that was assumed but now is believed unlikely to be received during this fiscal year,” Brassell said.

The check was the largest seen in the Register of Wills office, according to Kim Rod-gers, an inheritance tax clerk for nearly 20 years.

“The largest checks I’ve seen have been $1 million or $2 million. This is huge,” Rodgers said.

Through the first nine months of the year, West-moreland County has collected more than $18.7 million in inheritance taxes. The average monthly collection is about $2.1 million, Rodgers said.

Officials said the average inheritance tax payment statewide is $12,689. In Westmoreland County, the average inheritance tax payment is $11,232.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or [email protected].

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