Times Op-Ed Questions Rhetoric Around Federal Estate Tax
The Seattle Times had an op-ed Thursday on an issue we’ve been following. Todd Achilles, managing member of Balius Ventures LLC and a Budget & Policy Center board member, called on Congress to reinstate the federal estate tax, a significant revenue stream for areas we care about, like education and the environment.
The tax was allowed to temporarily lapse in 2010 because Congress was unable to reach an agreement on an extension at the end of last year. And the failure to extend the tax for 2010 will cost the Treasury around $20 billion at a time when we face historic deficits.
He lays out some of the facts about how exaggerated the rhetoric has been. For example, under the 2009 levels, 99.8 percent of estates never had to worry about the estate tax. For all the arguments about how burdensome it is, the tax has actually been decreasing ver the past decade. As part of the sweeping tax cuts enacted in 2001, the top tax rate has been steadily lowered while the individual and per couple exemption has been raised.
Allowing the estate tax to disappear is problematic for a number of reasons, which Todd lays out well in his editorial. You can read it here.
For more information on the federal estate tax, see our recent report “Current Federal Estate Tax Supports Public Priorities.”