June 2009

Death to the death tax! | As I was saying …

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Death to the death tax!

by Bill Good
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Congress once again is considering what to do with the estate tax, that most insidious of taxes, which puts a levy on the inevitable. Under current law, the "death" tax is 45 percent of individual estates valued at more than $3.5 million; it is set to expire altogether next year and, unchanged, would revert to 55 percent on estates valued at more than $1 million in 2011.

Confusing? You bet, and that's either part of the problem, part of a larger scheme to obfuscate things or both.

The Obama administration has proposed an ongoing tax rate of 45 percent on estates exceeding an exemption level of $3.5 million per person. Advocates argue, among other things, that 45 percent and $3.5 million are still better than 55 percent and $1 million and the tax would only apply to the "wealthy."

The U.S. Senate recently voted 51-48 to permanently cut the estate tax rate to 35 percent with a $5 million per-person exemption. Administration officials and some Senate Democrats expressed their outrage; Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the vote a...

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