Sen. Max Baucus has introduced a bill in the Senate that would make the 2009 estate tax level permanent and reunify the estate and gift taxes.
Under current law, the top rate for all three taxes is 45%, and the exemption is $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples.
In 2010, the current law would eliminate the estate tax and the generation-skipping transfer and cut the gift tax rate to 35%.
But, in 2011, the estate, generation-skipping transfer, and gift taxes are scheduled to revert back to pre-2001 levels, with an exemption of $1 million, a 55% top rate, and a 5% surtax on large estates.
In addition to making the 2009 estate tax level permanent, the new bill, the Taxpayer Certainty and Relief Act of 2009, would allow portability of the exemption for spouses, according to Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Another provision would increase the amount available under the special use valuation revaluation to equal the estate tax exemption, Baucus says.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the highest-ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, said Tuesday at a seminar that while Republicans might seek additional estate tax relief, an estate tax bill is likely to pass by August.