On Wednesday, CTJ joined Americans for a Fair Estate Tax to voice opposition to an estate tax proposal that would benefit only the families with the largest 1 in 400 estates. In a strongly-worded letter, AFET said a reduction in the estate tax should not even be on Congress's agenda, much less be a priority.
News began to leak last week that a bipartisan group of Senators, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) were negotiating a deal to weaken the estate tax even beyond the 2009 parameters that the president wants to make permanent. The deal would have eventually exempted up to $10 million per couple from the estate tax.
The proposed estate tax rules would cost the country billions of dollars per year, but a phase-in of the changes and other budget gimmicks, such as a prepayment option, would have masked the cost in the ten-year budget window that is counted when lawmakers consider legislation. A detailed report of the proposal can be found here.
News reports on Thursday indicated that the deal had begun to unravel. We hope the Senate will now turn its attention back to legislation creating jobs and helping ordinary Americans who are still struggling in this economic downturn.