Senate Democrats Abandon the Estate Tax

by Jeremy Scott

The most progressive tax in the United States is also one of the most unpopular. Thanks to Republican-led efforts to characterize it as a death tax, the estate tax is almost universally reviled in Congress and by voters. To emphasize the point, last week the Democrat-controlled Senate voted 80 to 19 to kill the tax, provided revenue could be found to offset the cost. How Democrats can reconcile their quest for more revenue from the wealthy with a desire to repeal a tax that hits only the wealthiest taxpayers (and even then, just their estates) is anyone's guess.

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... [V]oters should be wary of what Senate Democrats will support during any tax reform debate. If the Senate is willing to drop the only truly progressive tax in the code in favor of other sources of revenue, it is very likely that Republicans will call the tune during the elaborate compromises that make up tax reform. If that happens, then even if the tax base becomes broader, it probably will be a lot more regressive.

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