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House Could Vote on Estate Tax This Week

December 3, 2009

Urge Congress to Support Permanent Estate Tax Relief

Please take a few moments to contact your lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives and ask for his or her support for finding a permanent solution for the estate tax.

Estate tax laws are under review in Congress ahead of the scheduled expiration of current estate tax provisions in 2010. One such piece of legislation is H.R. 4154, the Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Businesses Act of 2009, sponsored by Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.). This bill could be considered on the House floor as early as Dec. 3. In essence the measure is a permanent extension of 2009 law. H.R. 4154 would make permanent a 45 percent rate on inherited wealth, providing individuals with a $3.5 million exemption and couples with a $7 million exemption. Unfortunately, the Pomeroy bill does not index the exemption level to inflation.

The estate tax quagmire stems from the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. The Act established a gradual decrease in the overall highest estate tax rate from 55 to 45 percent between 2001 and 2009, while raising the exemption amount from $675,000 to $3.5 million during the same period. Under the 2001 tax cuts, if Congress does nothing by the end of this year, the estate tax will disappear Jan. 1 and then return in 2011, with a $1 million exemption and a 55 percent top rate.

This temporary measure was enacted on the assumption that Congress would revisit the issue before 2009 in order to set rates at appropriate levels. But the absence of congressional action has left many small businesses and family farms in a state of uncertainty.

SBAM and our national affiliate the National Small Business Association have urged Congress to enact legislation this year that provides permanent estate tax relief for family businesses and farms. The uncertain nature of the estate tax regime over the next two years is a cause for major concern for family businesses, many of which are struggling to guarantee that their business survives into the next generation.

Your representatives in Washington need to hear from you on this important issue. Ask your Members of Congress to help small and medium-sized businesses by supporting legislation that would provide permanent reform of the estate tax.

Please click here to remind your elected officials that estate tax reform is a top small-business priority!

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