Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced legislation Tuesday to shore up the Social Security trust fund by raising the estate tax to 2009 levels.
Van Hollen’s Strengthen Social Security by Taxing Dynastic Wealth Act would deposit all of the revenues raised by increasing the top estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes back to 2009 levels, as follows:
- Increasing the top estate and gift tax rate from 40% to 45%;
- Exempting the first $3.5 million of an individual’s estate from estate taxes ($7 million for married couples);
- Setting the lifetime exemption limit for gifts at $1 million for an individual ($2 million for married couples); and
- Maintaining the generation-skipping transfer tax as an anti-abuse measure to prevent circumvention of estate taxes, and as under current law, the parameters of that tax would conform to the new estate tax parameters.
Van Hollen also introduced the Social Security 2100 Act, which would strengthen the program over the long term while expanding benefits.
Like the Social Security 2100 Act, Van Hollen’s new bill would also combine Social Security’s two trust funds — the Old Age and Survivors fund and the Disability Insurance fund — into a single trust fund.
“In 2017, Republicans in Congress secured their latest massive giveaway on the estate tax — delivering a $4.4 million tax cut per couple to just 1,900 estates in the entire country at the same time they refused to support vital national priorities. That was unconscionable, and we must return the estate tax to a more reasonable level,” Van Hollen said in introducing the bill. “I can think of no better way to use for that revenue than to strengthen Social Security. This program has been under attack in recent years, and we must fight to protect it. With this new legislation, we can ensure all hardworking men and women have financial security in their later years — not just the wealthy few.”