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Prominent, wealthy Americans endorse UFE proposal for strong estate tax

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More than two dozen prominent billionaires, millionaires and high-profile Americans are calling for raising significantly more revenue from the federal estate tax than what the Obama administration is proposing, an organization representing the group disclosed today.

Unveiled by Responsible Wealth, a project of the non-partisan, non-profit United for a Fair Economy (UFE), the proposal calls for a $4 million exemption rate per couple and a graduated tax rate on the taxable estate, beginning at 45% and rising on the largest fortunes.

The proposal additionally embraces a simplified compliance with estate tax law to allow for state tax credits, portability, and reunification of federal gift taxes.

The list of Americans endorsing UFE’s proposal during the conference call included Bill Gates Sr., Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Vanguard Founder John Bogle, Abigail Disney and Richard Rockefeller.

Other prominent Americans among the more than 300 individuals who have signed on to the proposal are former President, Jimmy Carter, Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration, as well as the American business magnates/investors/philanthropists Warren Buffett and George Soros.

A press statement issued by the group asserts that President Obama’s estate tax proposal is not strong enough and “leaves too much money on the table.” The statement adds that wealthy Americans should be subject to a strong estate tax.

“We believe that a well-funded government benefits people at all economic levels, and that our families have benefited significantly from government investment in schools, infrastructure, research, technology, public safety, national defense, laws and regulations, the statement says.

“We believe it is right to have a significant tax on large estates when they are passed on to the next generation, the statement adds. “We believe it is right morally and economically, and that an estate tax promotes democracy by slowing the concentration of wealth and power.”

Current estate tax law, which expires at the end of 2012, provides for a $10 million exemption per couple. Backers of UFE proposal assert that the threshold is “unnecessarily high and leaves too much revenue on the table in a time of growing deficits and painful cuts.”

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