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Steve Chiotakis: At the first of the year, the federal estate tax will disappear. But it’s set to come back in 2011 if Congress does nothing. That’s due to the way the Bush administration’s tax cuts were written. Well today, a group of some of America’s wealthiest people will argue the tax shouldn’t expire. From Washington, Brett Neely has more.
Brett Neely: The House has already voted to extend the estate tax through next year and beyond. It will apply to estates larger than $3.5 million. Now it’s the turn of the Senate, which is occupied with health care.
Members of the Gates and Rockefeller families say the tax is essential to preventing an aristocracy, says Lee Farris. She’s an organizer with the group United for a Fair Economy that’s working with the families.
Lee Farris: Our country is founded on being a meritocracy, where you have to get ahead on your own merit.
In the big picture, the estate tax is pretty small. Fewer than 1 in 400 families ever pay it, according to the Tax Policy Center. And it will raise about $14 billion this year, compared to over $800 billion from the income tax.
The center’s William Gale says the Senate will probably continue the estate tax.
William Gale: They don’t have the guts to raise the tax and they can’t afford to reduce the tax.
Gale adds that if the tax does go away for a year, 2010 could be a very good year for wealthy people to die.
In Washington, I’m Brett Neely for Marketplace.
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