Americans for a Fair Estate Tax Urge Congress to Restore Strong Inheritance Tax

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 10, 2010


Americans for a Fair Estate Tax Coalition Urges Congress
to Restore Strong Estate Tax

WASHINGTON, DC – The Americans for a Fair Estate Tax (AFET), a coalition of dozens of national and state organizations, announced today that it sent a coalition letter to all members of the House and Senate calling for Congress to restore the estate tax to 2009 levels or stronger.

The letter noted that the deal negotiated by President Obama and Republicans includes two years of a sharply weaker estate tax, with a $5 million exemption for individuals and a $10 million exemption for couples, and a tax rate of 35 percent.

In the letter, sixty-nine organizations urged Congress to “re-establish a permanent robust estate tax.” Among the 69 organizations signing the coalition letter are groups with national memberships such as YWCA and USAction, philanthropic groups such as Independent Sector and National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy, and labor groups, including AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and SEIU.

Lee Farris, Estate Tax Policy Coordinator of United for a Fair Economy and AFET steering committee member, said, “In times of crisis, we pull together and share the sacrifice. While working- and middle-income people are struggling, this deal would gut the estate tax, putting billions more in the pockets of millionaires and billionaires. United for a Fair Economy calls on Congress to amend the deal to restore a strong estate tax.”

Gary Bass, OMB Watch Executive Director and AFET steering committee member, said, “The presence of an estate tax provides an incentive for the wealthy to contribute to charitable organizations. And in this harsh economic environment, institutions that feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and train jobless workers are acutely feeling the crush of an increased demand for their services as their funding sources dry up.” He continued, “President Obama inexplicably gave away the store to Paris Hilton and other heirs to vast fortunes through the evisceration of the estate tax.”

The letter also points out that:

  • Restoring the estate tax to 2009 levels or stronger would affect only the wealthiest one quarter of one percent of estates and would bring in roughly $250 billion in revenue over 10 years.
  • The Tax Policy Center estimates that in 2009, only 100 small businesses and small farm estates nationwide owed any estate tax.
  • Polls show a clear majority of voters want there to be an estate tax, believing that an exemption of between $2 million and $3.5 million is fair.  Voters continually place the estate tax at the bottom of the list of taxes the government should cut.
  • Continued repeal of the estate tax would deepen the budget deficit by roughly $800 billion between 2012 and 2021.

Click here for full text of the AFET coalition letter.

Americans For a Fair Estate Tax is a coalition of nonprofit organizations and others from around the country, representing a wide cross-section of America, and includes civic, labor, social justice, faith-based, environmental, and human services groups. The coalition is dedicated to preserving the estate tax in some form as a valuable part of the progressive U.S. tax system.

United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Boston, MA, which advocates for progressive economic and tax policies. More at

OMB Watch is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting government accountability, citizen participation in public policy decisions, and the use of fiscal and regulatory policy to serve the public interest. Learn more at

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