Estate Tax Repeal Opponents: "The Battle Isn't Over Yet"

Press Release
For Immediate Release - June 5, 2001
Contact: Betsy Leondar-Wright
(617) 423-2148 x113
bleondar-wright@faireconomy.org">bleondar-wright@faireconomy.org

Estate Tax Repeal Opponents: "The Battle Isn't Over Yet"

"Reports of the death of the estate tax have been greatly exaggerated. The decision to postpone its execution for nine years gives common sense plenty of time to prevail over the hazards of wholesale repeal, which would widen the already vast wealth gap."

– Chuck Collins, co-founder of Responsible Wealth

President Bush won a primarily symbolic victory with the tax cut bill he will sign Thursday, according to opponents of estate tax repeal.

The bill is so full of hidden costs, accounting tricks, delays and sunset provisions that it surely will not become permanent law in its entirety, according to Chuck Collins. The question remains which parts will be implemented, the much-needed breaks for working families or the irresponsible giveaways to the very wealthy.

The estate tax repeal doesn’t go into effect until 2010, and applies only to those who die in the year 2010. In 2011, a sunset provision returns the estate tax to current law, which specifies a $1 million exemption starting in 2006.

Bill Gates, Sr., co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and lead signer of Responsible Wealth’s Call to Preserve the Estate Tax, says, "This gradual reform of the estate tax over the next few years - a $1 million exemption in 2002, $2 million in 2006 - is just what we have been advocating instead of complete repeal. We feel we won a partial victory in delaying full repeal."

The hypocrisy with which repeal proponents used small businesses to hide their true agenda of more riches for the super-rich is now obvious, as the final bill eliminates in 2004 the higher exemption for family-owned business. Small business owner Martin Rothenberg says, "This bait-and-switch tactic shows that we small business owners were nothing but a smokescreen.
There are many ways the government can support family businesses, and estate tax repeal isn’t one of them. I don’t resent being asked to give back to the public coffers when I die."

Gary Bass, Executive Director of OMB Watch and chair of the nonprofit coalition against estate tax repeal, says, "The American people are catching on to all the tricks and booby traps in this bill. We are confident that nine years from now, the ”˜death tax’ myths will give way to responsible concern for federal and state revenue and charitable giving."

Collins adds, "In 4 short months, Responsible Wealth organized 1,000 wealthy people to preserve the estate tax and, with OMB Watch, formed a coalition of hundreds of groups opposed to repeal. With a 10-year lead time, imagine how much opposition we could mount!"

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