Senate Votes Down Permanent End to the Estate Tax

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"[...] Partisan wrangling last year resulted in the estate tax dropping to zero in 2010, costing the government billions in revenue. Democrats hope to reinstate the tax for next year, exempting the first $3.5 million of a person or family’s estate and taxing the rest at up to 45 percent. That makes it the country’s most progressive tax, applying to less than one percent of estates.

An alternative proposal, by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), calls for an exemption of $5 million and a top rate of 35 percent. If the Senate does not act, the tax bounces back to 2001 levels, with an exemption of $1 million and a top rate of 55 percent. [...]

But today, some very, very wealthy folks publicly lobbied for the estate tax — essentially saying, “Take my money, please.” They argue that the tax encourages charitable giving and planning among wealthy families — and is good for the country. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have previously called for a high estate tax, and on fellow billionaires to give wealth away. And today, so did Bob Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary, a Disney heiress and a number of others. [...]"

Read the full column by Annie Lowrey on

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