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Congress Tackles Tax Gap for the Super-Rich: Sen. Baucus on the Front Lines

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Monday, November 30, 2009   

HELENA, Mont. - Death and taxes are on the docket for Congress in the next few weeks. The lawmakers need to bridge the one-year gap in the estate tax looming next year, and possibly decide what the tax should look like in the future. Montana Senator and Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus has called for keeping the tax, although some want to eliminate it.

Lee Farris, senior organizer with the non-profit group United for a Fair Economy, points out that the anti-estate tax campaign has been funded by a few super-wealthy families, including those who own Gallo Wines and Wal-Mart. She puts it in perspective under the current law.

"Married couples can pass on $7 million tax-free. If a person won $7 million in the lottery and then complained that it wasn't enough, I think we'd all call it ridiculous."

Farris says the estate tax has already been cut five times since 2001, and eliminating it would increase the federal deficit by more than a trillion dollars over 10 years.

The estate tax decision comes at a time when the economy still recovering, and Farris says tax breaks for the richest of the rich ought to cause some outrage.

"Cutting the estate tax again would just give a huge tax break to the very same corporate executives and Wall Street speculators who wrecked our economy and then paid themselves multi-million dollar bonuses."

Supporters of scrapping the tax claim it was never meant to be permanent. Estate tax revenue goes into the general fund, which helps pay for infrastructure, education and health care.


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