Tag Archives: Federal estate tax

Senators Murray and Cantwell Vote for Another Tax Break for Wealthy

Maybe Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are angling for the endorsement of the Seattle Times next time they’re up for election. They are certainly not working for most of the citizens in Washington State when they voted last week to raise the Federal estate tax exemption for the very wealthy.

Senators Murray and Cantwell joined forces with all 41 Republicans and 8 other Democrats in a Senate vote that would remove $91 billion over ten years from the Federal budget. As the blog Working Life said, “Ten Senate Democrats Lose Their Minds, Vote for Estate Tax Cut”

“Now, c’mon, this is entirely absurd. We already have the widest gap between rich and poor in many generations. Republicans (and some Democrats) are trying to cut the Administration’s proper and wise investments in infrastructure and wise energy efficiency programs. And, in the midst of all that, the Senate does what? Votes to cut the estate tax (which effects only the richest Americans) thanks to the votes of ten Senate Democrats. This is the definition of insanity.”

As the New York Times notes today in an editorial entitled “Guarding the Family Fortune” :

“…as the unemployment rate hit a 25-year high and nearly one in 10 Americans was receiving food stamps, 10 Democrats in the Senate joined all 41 Republican senators to cut estate taxes for the wealthiest families….With economic pain and suffering on the rise, how do the senators justify a big tax cut for multimillionaires?”

Who are the other Senators joining this Reagan/ Bush era philosophy of trickle down economics – that you can’t do enough to help the wealthy because they keep the county growing? They are Senators Lincoln Blanche (Arkansas), Max Baucus (Montana), John Tester (Montana), Evan Bayh (Indiana), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Bill Nelson (Florida), and Mark Pryor (Arkansas).

As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorites states:

“This proposal is both fiscally irresponsible — it would pave the way for a significant increase in long-term deficits and debt — and unnecessary to protect small businesses and farms, nearly all of which are already exempt from the tax under the 2009 estate tax rules, which President Obama has proposed to extend. The amendment also would lead to significant reductions in charitable contributions, while benefiting only the wealthiest 0.28 percent of estates.”

As the NY Times editorial cited above states:

Under today’s estate tax, which is retained in both the House version of the budget and in President Obama’s version, 99.8 percent of estates will never owe any estate tax. That’s because the tax applies only to estates that exceed $7 million per couple or $3.5 million for individuals, and a vast majority of American families are not and never will be that wealthy. “

It seems to me that Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell are missing the larger picture. Washington State voters recently voted to retain the state estate tax to help fund schools. With the increased concentration of wealth in a very small percentage of the population, it’s time for the wealthy to give back some of the money they made thanks to benefits of the US economic system that made it possible. After all, they can’t spend it after they’re dead. But they can do whatever they want with it while they’re living.

Call Your Senators Today to Oppose Repeal of Inheritance Tax on Multimillionaires.

The Republican Senate is on the verge of repealing the estate tax to benefit their multimillionaire donors. The following information, except the next paragraph, is taken almost entirely as written from e-mails from the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition and the Childrens Alliance, which sent out e-mail alerts.

Citizens for Tax Justice found that in Washington State only 1.1% of the total estates in 2004 or 493 were subject to the Federal estate tax. Only inheritance assets exceeding $1.5 million were taxed. The current amount not being taxed is $2 million so the number of estates should be even less than in 2004. In 2009 the limit will go up to $3.5 million. In many cases the assets being taxed are capital gains that previously were not taxed.

Call toll free now to tell the Senate NOT to Slash the Estate Tax!

We hope you will join with people across the country to call your Senators with a simple message:

Please vote no on any effort to repeal or drastically cut the estate tax. It does not make sense to cut funding for education and healthcare and other programs vital for the future of our nation so we can giveaway hundreds of billions of dollars (or even more!) to a handful of multimillionaires.”

Toll-free Number: 800-459-1887

Use the toll-free number above to reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard and ask to be connected to your Senators’ offices. Call twice – once for each Senator. (The person at the switchboard can figure out who your Senators are if you’re not sure. Washington State’s two Senators are Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray). When you’re connected, please give your own version of the message above.

The toll-free number is provided courtesy of the American Friends Service Committee which has launched a budget campaign, AFSC welcomes groups to circulate and use the toll-free number in support of non-partisan budget goals and without linking the alert to a website soliciting donations or actions which may be used to support partisan lobbying or work.

Where things stand: In order to get the estate tax repeal (H.R. 8) on the Senate floor, there needs to be a “motion to proceed.” That vote is now expected as early as this Thursday, June 8. Opponents of repeal will object, and then it will take 60 votes to move forward and take up the estate tax. This is tricky, because some Senators may vote to start the debate, even if they say they oppose repeal. But in our view, there is a very long list of items the Senate should be taking up before this – like, say, raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits for Katrina survivors (benefits just expired!), reversing recently enacted cuts in vital services, and getting to work protecting services from additional cuts in the new appropriations bills. So we think a motion to proceed to repeal/slash the estate tax is a dangerous step in the wrong direction. We have a good chance of stalling repeal now if Senate offices hear from us.

Very useful new state data: Citizens for Tax Justice has pulled together brand new data from the IRS showing how many estates paid the estate tax in 2004, broken down by state. For example, in Maine, only 124 estates were subject to the tax in 2004 – only 1 percent of the total deaths in the state the year before. Nationwide, only a little more than 30,000 multi-millionaire estates paid this tax on inheritance.

And remember – starting in 2009 estates worth less than $3.5 million are exempt (or less than $7 million for couples). That’s up from the current $2 million exemption – and that means even fewer will be paying the tax in the future than paid it in 2004.

We hope you will forward this request to make calls to your networks, and that you will call. Thanks!

Republicans Continue to Give Away our Children’s Future

Republicans in the US Senate are beginning a final push to abolish the estate tax. They could commence action as soon as next week. It’s part of the continuing Republican plan for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. The US House of Representatives has already voted to repeal the estate tax.

As reported on OMB Watch on Wednesday,

“Senate aides said yesterday that estate tax repeal will likely be the third order of business to come up when the Senate returns after the Memorial Day recess. The Senate will vote on full repeal, and after that likely fails, it is Senator Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) intention to bring his “reform” plan up for a vote. His plan is little better than full repeal as it would attain very little of the actual revenue garnered from the estate tax.”

We join with OMB Watch and urge that you “Take action on this issue! Contact your Senators and tell them to vote no on repeal and no on Kyl’s fiscally irresponsible alternative.”

Americans for a Fair Estate Tax have sent a letter to all Senators urging them to vote no.
A copy of the letter can be seen here: FairEstateTax.org letter .

The following Washington State organizations have signed the letter.

Washington Tax Fairness Coalition
Kids Northwest
Statewide Poverty Action Network
Washington State Association of Churches
Northwest Federation of Community Organizations
Washington Citizen Action
Children’s Alliance
Northwest Health Law Advocates

The Washington Tax Fairness Coalition represents some 73 organizations in Washington State working for fair taxes. The following are some facts taken form an e-mail they sent to their members:

3 Vital Facts About the Estate Tax:

· Repealing or drastically cutting it would cost $1 trillion over 10 years.
· Now, only 1 in 200 estates of people who die owe any estate tax; in 2009, when estates worth less than $3.5m ($7 million for couples) are exempt, only 3 out of 1,000 people who die will owe the tax.
· If the tax rate is dropped as proposed,* more than half the benefits will go to 700 estates worth more than $20 million each – they’ll each get $9 million in tax handouts in 2011 alone. Sheesh. (*serious proposal would drop rate from 45% to 15%)

3 Vital Facts About America:

· The gap between the rich and everyone else is growing. The wealthiest one percent own more than the bottom 90 percent – and it’s been getting worse over the past 15 years, according to the Federal Reserve Board.
· The U.S. faces major new costs for retirement and health care over the next decades. Over the next 25 years, Medicare will grow from 8% to 14% as a share of the economy. Not a good time to lose trillions.
· We have already started to cut federal funding on health care, education, child care, job training, and so many other services.

Wealth in America is not distributed equally. According to WixipediaIn the United States, 10% of the population owns 71% of the wealth, and the top 1% controls 38%. On the other hand, the bottom 40% own less than 1% of the total wealth. ”

This disparity in income distribution has continued to increase over recent years. One strong proponent of the estate tax is William H Gates, Sr – the father of Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Several years ago he and Chuck Collins wrote a book entitled Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes, Beacon Press (2003) .