Congress will move next year to make the 2009 estate tax level set by current law permanent and index the level for inflation, Sen. Max Baucus said today.
Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, talked about the estate tax while telling reporters about what he expects Congress to work on in 2009 and 2010.
The first action would be on the huge stimulus package President-elect Barack Obama has said will be his first order of business when he takes office in January 2009, Baucus said.
Baucus said funding to support electronic transmission of health care records will be part of the package.
Dealing with the estate tax will come next, as part of work on a tax-cut package for the middle class, Baucus said.
Under current law, the taxpayers would get a $3.5 million-per-individual estate tax exemption in 2009. The maximum tax rate would be 45%.
The estate tax is set to expire in 2010 but to bounce back to the 2001 level in 2011, with a $1 million exemption and a 55% maximum tax rate.
Baucus also expressed support for reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for a short term, not simply extending the current SCHIP law.
Baucus said he does not support a longer-term, 5-year reauthorization of the program, because a longer reauthorization might interfere with efforts to tackle comprehensive health care reform.
The current program expires March 31.
Work on legislation tackling broader tax issues and paying for the huge sums Congress has appropriated to cope with the economic downturn would be delayed until 2010, Baucus said.
Baucus said he is finishing a health care reform bill and hopes to introduce the bill by the end of the year. He said the bill would have support from key Republican senators.