Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, took to the floor to urge the Democratic leadership to put the estate tax on the Senate's radar screen. He said resolving the estate tax nightmare with real reform is time-sensitive tax legislative business that needs to be completed. Under current law the estate tax returns to a 55% top tax rate and a $1 million exemption in 2011. Grassley says that means the country is about six months away from a tax policy a super majority of Senators say they don't support and a policy that will take jobs, businesses and people out of rural America, yet the issue has taken a back seat to a number of other issues.
Grassley says taxing people's assets upon their death is wrong and the estate tax should be repealed. He says heirs shouldn't be forced to sell a single asset to pay the tax. He says it's an impediment to passing on the family farm or business and will act as an incentive to break down many family farms and small businesses that form the economic backbone of their hard working heartland communities. According to Grassley that means the estate tax impacts not just the person filing the estate tax return, but the dead person's entire family, employees and neighbors if the family farm or business is burdened with the tax.
Grassley notes a bipartisan compromise reached by Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln and Arizona Republican Jon Kyl would cap the death tax rate at 35% and provide for a unified credit equivalent amount of $5 million. Under that compromise, he says the Joint Committee on Taxation says 4,000 estates would be taxable, ten-times less than the 44,000 that would be taxable under current law in 2011.