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Bill to permanently repeal estate tax stalls in Senate

A bill to make the repeal the estate tax permanent, H.R.8, stalled in the Senate late last week, as not enough votes were garnered to proceed with action on the Senate floor.

Democrats are generally pleased with the development, and in a statement, the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) Democrats said claims that eliminating the tax would encourage saving and investment, promote economic growth, and reward entrepreneurship are "greatly exaggerated and even misleading."

The JEC Democrats, led by ranking Committee Democrat Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), said, "Farms and family-owned businesses already get special treatment under the estate tax through two main channels: tax deferral and preferential valuation of assets."

That group estimates that the number of small businesses and farms that would be forced to liquidate to pay the tax is "almost certainly no more than a percent or so." The JEC Democrats also point to statistics from the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that 13 or fewer farm estates would have needed to liquidate any assets to pay the estate tax in 2000 if the exemption was at its 2009 level of $3.5 million.

On the other side of the aisle, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), told the Senate that the estate tax brings in less than 1.3% of the U.S. Government's income. "It is hurting, savaging, killing off vibrant, growing small businesses, the family-owned entities that need to be competing against the big guys," he said in a statement on the Senate floor.

"Polls show that the death tax is the most unfair tax," he said. "You earn money, and then you pay, if you are in the higher income bracket, a 35% tax rate, and then you buy an asset with it, and a few years later, you die, and Uncle Sam comes in and he wants 55% of it. What kind of a tax system is that? It is really a confiscation."

Also, Sessions said, "Any good tax should be clear, fair, easy to collect, and does not cost a lot of money to collect. When you evaluate the death tax by those standards, it is the worst tax of all."

A bill to make the repeal the estate tax permanent, H.R.8, stalled in the Senate late last week, as not enough votes were garnered to proceed with action on the Senate floor.

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