Estate Tax Repeal Imperiled as GOP Senator Says He Wants to Keep It

Rounds might back an increase in the exemption level

(Photo: Allison Bell/TA) (Photo: Allison Bell/TA)

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds said Thursday he opposes repealing the estate tax, a long-sought goal of his party.

The South Dakota senator’s position could imperil prospects of ending the tax given the GOP’s narrow, 52-vote majority in the Senate. “I think we do the most good” by preserving the estate tax in some form, Rounds said in an interview. “The larger ones and the most wealthy — they’ve already figured out a way to bypass the taxes anyway."

Currently, the 40% estate tax applies only to estates worth more than $5.49 million per individual. Rounds left the door open to raising that threshold. “I think the estate tax change should come for those individuals between the $5 million and the $10-$15 million category for individuals, and double that for the spouses,” Rounds said in an interview. “Specifically because the vast majority of the real small businesses are valued in that range.”

Apart from Rounds, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is seen as a possible opponent of eliminating the estate tax — she voted against repealing it in 2015. Republicans need at least 50 members to pass a tax bill, because they’re not counting on Democratic support.

--- Read Broad Strokes of Tax Reform Released in GOP Framework on ThinkAdvisor.

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