Estate Tax: Quick Facts, Quick Action


Under the law passed by President Bush, there is no estate tax in 2010, and estates pay only capital gains tax; then the estate tax returns with a $1 million exemption and 55% rate in 2011. President Obama wants to prevent this one year absence by making the 2009 estate tax law permanent; he wants to continue the 2009 exemption of $3.5 million per spouse and a tax rate of 45% on the amount above the exemption. Compared to current law, the Obama proposal reduces the estate tax by $226 billion over 10 years.

United for a Fair Economy supports H.R. 2023, sponsored by Rep. McDermott, D-Wash., which would make permanent the exemption level at $2 million, and establish progressive tax rates of 45% for estates between $2-5 million; 50% for estates between $5-10 million; and the pre-2001 rate of 55% for estates above $10 million — all indexed for inflation. The bill also includes reunification, portability, and the state estate tax credit. This bill will do the most to prevent growing economic inequality, which is now at an all time high.


UFE urges supporters to call 202-224-3121 (Capitol switchboard) and ask to be connected to one of your two Senators, or call their direct line. Then, ask for the staff person who handles taxes, or tell the person who answers the phone:

  • My name is _____________. I am a constituent.
  • Tell them you support Rep. McDermott's estate tax proposal for a $2 million exemption, HR 2023, because our country needs funds for long-overdue investments in health care, education, clean energy, and other public services — not more tax breaks for the heirs of the richest 1 percent.
  • Extending the 2009 estate tax law for one year in order to prevent the one year absence of the estate tax would be helpful.
  • Ask the senator’s position on the estate tax.

Then call your second Senator and your Representative at the same telephone number.
Email Lee Farris at [email protected] and let her know what you heard and how it went.  If you get a reply email or letter from your legislator, please send Lee a copy.

Senators who voted for the estate tax cut in the budget include all Republican Senators and 10 Democrats: Baucus-MT, Bayh-IN, Cantwell-WA, Landrieu-LA, Lincoln-AR, Murray-WA, Bill Nelson-FL, Ben Nelson-NE, Pryor-AR, and Tester-MT.