WASHINGTON BUREAU – A high-ranking Republican is asking Democratic congressional leaders to act quickly to reinstitute the federal estate tax.
“Resolving the estate tax nightmare with real reform is time-sensitive tax legislative business,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa., the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said Wednesday on the Senate floor.
Today, the estate tax issue is “nowhere on the Senate’s radar screen,” Grassley said. “I urge my friends in the Democratic leadership to put it on the Senate’s radar screen. If we leave the death tax in place in its punitive form in 2011, it will take away jobs, businesses, and people out of rural America.”
Because of provisions in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the estate tax has disappeared this year but is set to return to 2001 levels Jan. 1, 2011. In 2001, the exemption was $1 million and the maximum tax rate was 55%. The 2009 exemption was $3.5 million, and the top 2009 tax rate was 45%.
In 2009, the House passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., that would have extended the 2009 estate tax parameters permanently.
The Pomeroy bill failed in the Senate in December, when Republicans refused to give unanimous consent to let the bill come up for consideration on the Senate floor.
The Senate is working on H.R. 4213, a bill that would renew a number of measures, including an unemployment benefits extension and many tax breaks, that expired Dec. 31, 2009.