NU Online News Service, June 13, 11:03 a.m. — Washington

The Senate vote yesterday against permanent repeal of the estate tax probably ends consideration of the controversial issue for the rest of the year, industry representatives say.

“In reality, the Senate vote was the last shot this year for those who want estate tax repeal at all costs,” says David Winston, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va.

It is clear that the proponents of repeal have lost significant traction since June 2001, Winston says.

The effort to permanently repeal the estate tax ended when proponents fell six votes short of the 60 needed in the Senate to approve a repeal measure. The Senate vote was 54-44.

Under current law, the estate tax will phase out on Jan. 1, 2010. However, due to a sunset clause in the phase out legislation, the estate tax will return to 2001 levels on Jan. 1, 2011.

It was unclear at press time whether Congress would now take up efforts to reform, rather than repeal, the estate tax. Much of the media speculation was that both Democrats and Republicans would debate the issue in the upcoming congressional elections.

Winston says he believes senators considered the issue of repeal in light of the resumption of budget deficits, the need to enhance homeland security, the desire to provide Medicare beneficiaries with a prescription drug benefit, and other more pressing concerns.

NAIFA, he adds, supports significant reform of the estate tax so that more than 99% of Americans would not be subject to it.