Small-business advocates are making renewed attempts to permanently repeal the estate tax, which is being phased out between now and 2010, only to reappear in 2011. Senate and House versions of the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005 (S. 420/H.R. 8) have been introduced, and they have bipartisan support. The House and Senate budget resolutions for fiscal 2006 look like they will allow for the extension of some tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003--now comes the fight for which cuts will be extended or made permanent.
In June 2003, the House passed a permanent repeal of the estate tax, but the Senate Finance Committee never took it up. The House recently re-passed the bill on April 13. But will the Senate block it again?
Jill Gerber, spokesperson for Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says Grassley is supportive of the repeal, but acknowledges that it may not be easy to pass. "In a deficit-reduction environment, permanent repeal of the estate tax competes with extension of marginal-rate tax cuts, family tax cuts and small-business tax cuts," she says.
When asked if there will be enough votes in the Senate to pass the repeal in 2005-2006, one small-business lobbyist says, "We are pretty close. But in the Senate, you never know until the day of the vote."
Stephen Barlas is a freelance business reporter who covers the Washington beat for 15 magazines.