Thursday, April 14, 2005

Estate Tax: On Its Way Out?

According to this Washington Times report (registration required):

The House passed legislation yesterday that, beginning in 2010, would permanently repeal the estate tax, and with recent Republican gains in the Senate, some party members say it has a good chance to also pass that chamber.

The vote was 272-162, with 42 Democrats joining in support. Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa was the only Republican to vote no.


Under tax relief passed by Congress in 2001, the estate tax is gradually phased-out between now and 2010. This is accomplished by increasing the amounts exempt from the tax -- $1.5 million for individuals to $3 million for couples -- while simultaneously reducing the top rate imposed by the tax, which is 47 percent.

But the 2001 law allows the estate tax to come back in 2011. The bill passed by the House would prevent that from happening by getting rid of it permanently.
The talking points on both sides of the aisle are pretty predictable (although 42 Democrats did vote in favor of the bill):
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said the House-passed Republican bill basically uses funds that working Americans are paying into Social Security.

"What Republicans are doing today is putting their hand into that pot and saying ,'We're taking that money and we're subsidizing the super wealthy,' " she said.

But Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia Republican, saw it differently. "Cutting taxes does not cost the government money," he said. "It allows people who earn that money to keep more of it."
Actually, this won't affect me personally one way or the other, but I would like to see it passed precisely because it will take funds out of the hands of the government. Of course, for that to be really true, Republicans will have to commit to curbing deficit spending and I am not holding my breath.

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