House Votes Overwhelmingly to Repeal Estate Tax

An historic vote in the House today will pave the way for the eventual repeal of the oppressive estate tax. The vote was 279-136 to repeal the "death tax" over a period of 10 years. Sixty-five Democrats voted in favor of this bill, enough to override a projected veto by President Clinton.

The tax affects about 2% of Americans, many of whom are owners of farms and family businesses. It is estimated that the repeal of the tax will cost the government approximately $50 billion per year. Congressmen argue that this money will be covered by the projected federal surplus.

The federal estate tax ranges from 18% to 55% on estates valued at more than $675,000, and some estates are subject to an additional 5% surtax. Estates that are passed through, tax-free, to surviving spouses, are subject to tax on value that exceeds $1.35 million, or twice the single amount. Some special rules provide for greater exemptions to estates containing family farms and small businesses, and some of these types of estates have a longer period of time over which to pay the tax.

Representatives of minority groups including African-Americans and Hispanics support the repeal of the tax, claiming that businesses their constituents are trying to build are threatened by the tax. Some Democrats support a reduction rather than a repeal of the tax, offering special exemptions to farmers and small business owners, and lowering, but not ending the tax for the wealthiest Americans.

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