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|An aspect of fiscal policy|
International tax law distinguishes between an estate tax and an inheritance tax—an estate tax is assessed on the assets of the deceased, while an inheritance tax is assessed on the legacies received by the estate's beneficiaries. However, this distinction is not always observed; for example, the UK's "inheritance tax" is a tax on the assets of the deceased, and strictly speaking is therefore an estate tax.
For historical reasons, the term death duty is still used colloquially (though not legally) in the UK and some Commonwealth countries. For political, statutory and other reasons, the term death tax is sometimes used to refer to estate tax in the United States.