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Influential Senators Say Vote on Estate Tax Unlikely in 2006

2 min readBy: Jonathan Williams

With Congress in the midst of the last week of session before the pre-election recess, Senators Trent Lott and Max Baucus, who are senior members of the 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. -writing Senate Finance Committee, gave some predictions about the future of the 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. .

From Congress Daily AM:

“Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Wednesday he favors passing extensions of expiring tax cuts in the lame-duck session, even though it appears that a permanent reduction in the estate tax is not likely to pass the Senate this year. “We come back in here, we ought to do what we’re ever going to do on appropriations bills and do the extenders, and say adios for the year,” Lott told reporters following Wednesday’s Senate Republican Conference lunch.

Lott said he wants the tax extenders to pass even though Senate GOP leaders said the “trifecta” package — which included the estate tax cut, tax extenders and a minimum wage increase — would be senators’ only chance to extend expiring tax provisions.

Senate Finance ranking member Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Tuesday that senators’ entrenched positions on the estate tax cut would make passage of a bill in the lame-duck difficult. “I think the die is pretty well cast,” Baucus said. “Senators have stated their positions, and it’s going to be difficult for them to change.”

One lobbyist said that even without action in the lame-duck period, it is doubtful that business supporters will hang up their spurs until 2010, when the reduction in the estate tax passed by Congress in 2001 is slated to expire.”

While the economic harms caused by the estate tax are well documented, it appears that political considerations will continue to trump economic considerations for the time being. To read a recent Tax Foundation report that provides great background information and economic analysis on the current estate tax, click here.