The Senate Finance Committee expects to hold a hearing on the federal estate tax Nov. 14.
The list of witnesses for the hearing, which comes with the title “Federal Estate Tax: Uncertainty in Planning under the Current Law,” includes Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Omaha, Neb., the parent company of Gen Re Corp., Stamford, Conn.
Buffett has complained in recent weeks that the tax rate on his own income is lower than the tax rate on the income of his employees.
In addition to Buffett, witnesses scheduled to testify at the Nov. 14 hearing include an estate planning attorney, a state senator and rancher from Nevada, and a manufacturing company executive from Iowa.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is scheduling the upcoming estate tax hearing in part because of a promise he made earlier this year to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., in an effort to win passage of an agriculture bill.
In addition to the Nov. 14 hearing, there likely will be another hearing in December or January 2008 along with another session to mark up a Kyl estate tax bill, according to the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, Falls Church, Va.
Under current law, the estate tax is supposed to vanish in 2010. In 2011, the estate tax would revert to the levels in effect in 2001, before the current estate tax law was enacted. The tax rate would be 55%, and the exemption would be $1 million.
The Senate Finance hearings on the estate tax “provide an excellent opportunity for us to redouble our efforts to ensure that lawmakers know the importance of reunifying the lifetime gift and estate tax exemptions,” AALU President Larry Raymond says.
Under the law passed in 2001, the gift tax exemption is capped at $1 million, while the estate tax exemption is capped at $3.5 million.
“Reunification should be a key part of any sustainable, permanent estate tax because it will enable clients to do more planning during their lifetime,” Raymond says.
More information about the hearing is available