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Will New Congress Keep 'Death Tax' Alive?

The new Congress looks like it might be ready to tackle the last remaining certainties in life — death and taxes, according to the American Family Business Institute (AFBI). The AFBI, a trade association founded in 1992 that funds  efforts opposing the federal estate tax, announced Thursday (Nov. 4) that an additional 12 senators and 117 congressmen (including incoming freshmen) have signed the organization’s “Death Tax Repeal Pledge.”

“The 112th Congress will now have a total of at least 49 repeal supporters in the Senate and 245 repeal supporters in the House, including incumbents who have previously voted for repeal,” AFBI president Dick Patten said in prepared remarks. “They will lead the fight for permanent estate tax repeal and bring much needed relief for America’s family business owners and farmers.”

The current federal estate tax was imposed by Congress in 1916 (under the Revenue Act, which also introduced income taxes), and was repealed on January 1, 2010. But the repeal is not permanent. Unless Congress takes action, the estate tax will be reinstated next year and levy a 55 percent tax on estates worth more than $1 million.

The federal estate tax has never had a sizeable fan base, at least among the living. A recent Harris Interactive poll found that two-thirds of American voters support a permanent repeal .

Some people loath the tax so much that they’re planning to die before it’s reinstated next year. U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) told the Associated Press that some of her Wyoming constituents are so worried about the reinstatement of federal estate taxes that they plan to discontinue dialysis and other life-extending medical treatments so they can die before Dec. 31.

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Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com.  Follow him on twitter @nedbsmith .

Ned Smith
Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.