Background on the estate tax:With your help over the past decade, we've succeeded in preventing repeal of the estate tax. Now the imminent battle is over reform. There is a real threat that a weak version of the estate tax that results in little revenue and worsening economic inequality will prevail. Our objective in 2009 is to defeat reckless estate tax proposals and to pass legislation to maintain a robust federal estate tax that generates significant revenue.
Press for Progressive Estate Tax Reform. President Obama advocates freezing the estate tax at its current 2009 exemption ($3.5 million for an individual and $7 million for a couple) and indexing it for inflation. Conservatives are still pressing for reckless proposals that would gut the law. Progressive alternatives, such as our "Sensible Estate Tax" proposal, would maintain a lower wealth exemption ($2 million per spouse) and introduce a progressive rate structure, with higher rates on larger estates.
A progressive estate tax will preserve most of $1 trillion in revenue over the next decade, provide a powerful incentive for charitable giving, and reduce inequalities of wealth. Eliminating or irresponsibly reforming the tax will shift tax obligations onto lower income taxpayers or future generations. Building Congressional support for a more progressive estate tax will help defeat conservative efforts to gut the law.
As Bill Gates Sr. has written, "the estate tax is a means by which wealthy people pay back the society and the commonwealth that has made their wealth possible."