New Poll Finds Americans Support Estate Tax 2 to 1

Press Release-for immediate release-August 31, 2005
Contact Christina Kasica, 617-423-2148, ext. 119 (cell phone 617-966-0445)

New Poll Finds Americans
Support Estate Tax 2 to 1

National Petition Shows Growing Support for Tax
among Farmers, Businesspeople

BOSTON- A new poll shows 59 percent of Americans across the political and income spectrum favor estate tax reform as opposed to 29 percent who favor outright repeal -- a 2 to 1 ratio. The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on estate tax repeal the week of September 5. The poll was sponsored by the Coalition for America's Priorities, of which United for a Fair Economy (UFE) is a member. The poll findings can be seen at http://www.coalition4americaspriorities.com.

"This new poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly favor estate tax reform. Immediately raising the estate tax exemption to $2 million per person and reinstituting a progressive rate structure that starts at 40% will preserve most of the $1 trillion of federal revenue for education, health care and deficit reduction over the next decade that would be lost if the estate tax is repealed," said Lee Farris, Senior Organizer on Estate Tax Policy at UFE.

In the run-up to the Senate vote, UFE will deliver copies of its national petition, the Call to Preserve the Estate Tax, to senators who are undecided about how they will vote on repeal. Petitions will be delivered in Arkansas, Maine, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island. The Call has been signed by over 5,000 Americans, including more than 2,200 millionaires and billionaires who are subject to the estate tax. It was initiated in 2001 with signers like Bill Gates, Sr., father of the Microsoft chairman, Ted Turner, and Paul Newman. A comparison of Call signers by state with the number of estates that will pay estate tax in each state is available at http://www.responsiblewealth.org/estatetax/ETCall_bystate.html.

A complete list of Call signers can be found at http://www.responsiblewealth.org/estatetax/ETCall_Signers.html.

"Farmers and ranchers face far greater challenges than repeal of the estate tax, such as low commodity prices, skyrocketing energy costs and weather-related disasters," said Tom Buis, vice president for government relations of the National Farmers Union, which represents 250,000 family farmers and ranchers. "The tremendous cost of repealing the estate tax to benefit the super-rich would jeopardize Congress' ability to adequately fund farm and disaster programs that would benefit rural America."

"The proponents of estate tax repeal are fond of calling it the 'death tax'. It's not a death tax, it's a Rich Kids' tax," said Bill Foster, co-founder and former CEO of Electronic Theatre Controls Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of stage lighting equipment, and a person who will owe the estate tax. "The estate tax is one of our time-tested and best tools in preventing the aristocracy of an 'Old Europe' from establishing itself on our shores."

"Estate tax repeal adversely impacts the federal budget which hurts Hispanic families and workers by eroding education and health care on which Latino families depend," said Eric Rodriguez, director of the Policy Analysis Center for the National Council of La Raza. "Providing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax benefits to a handful of wealthy taxpayers while threatening cuts to programs for low-income families makes little sense."

The telephone poll was conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Inc., on July 25, 2005, has an error margin of +/- 4.0% and included Republicans, those making over $75,000 per year, and people who own a farm or small business.

UFE has commentators available on the poll results, the Call to Preserve the Estate Tax, its proposal to reform the estate tax, the Senate vote, and the estate tax in general. UFE's estate tax reform proposal is available at http://www.faireconomy.org/estatetax/latest_news.html.

Commentators available:

Eric Rodriguez is Director of the Policy Analysis Center at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the leading national Hispanic research and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. He is responsible for planning and preparing policy analysis, legislative, and advocacy activities related to economic, employment, and financial security public policy issues, and has numerous publications on these subjects.

G. William Foster is the co-founder and former CEO of Electronic Theatre Controls Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of stage lighting equipment. Following his career in business, he earned a PhD in physics from Harvard University and was recently elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Angus King, former governor of Maine, was elected as an independent and served for two terms from 1995 to 2003. Before entering electoral politics, King practiced law and worked in the New England energy industry in the 1980s, founding Northeast Energy Management, Inc., which developed, installed and operated large-scale commercial projects.

Tom Buis, Vice President for Government Relations of the National Farmers Union, representing a quarter of a million family farmers and ranchers, is a former senior agriculture adviser to outgoing Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D). Buis was a full-time grain and livestock farmer in west central Indiana, where his two brothers still farm. Please call Emily Eisenberg at 202-314-3104 to schedule an interview.

Lee Farris, Senior Organizer on Estate Tax Policy at United for a Fair Economy, is an experienced organizer who works with individuals and organizations to reform the estate tax and develops actions to support the estate tax, identifying and building connections with key partner organizations, activists, and spokespeople.

United for a Fair Economy is an independent national non-profit that raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart.

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