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The Federal Estate Tax: Will It Rise From the Grave in 2011 or Sooner?

1 min read

The repeal of the federal estate taxAn estate tax is imposed on the net value of an individual’s taxable estate, after any exclusions or credits, at the time of death. The tax is paid by the estate itself before assets are distributed to heirs. in 2010 and the prospect of its reinstatement in 2011 bring debate over the “death taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. ” to the fore again. Some of the arguments are new: Would it be constitutional for Congress to reinstate the estate tax retroactively for 2010? But some of the arguments are a century old or more: Does the estate tax accomplish any worthwhile social purpose? Is it a good way to raise revenue?

In this Special Report we condense and update some earlier Tax Foundation studies on this age-old topic, with specific reference to the recent, surprising death and potential new life for the estate tax.