California Estate Planning Blog by Kevin Staker

September 20, 2010

Some Rumblings on Senate Vote; Interesting Estate Tax Debate in the Wall Street Journal

Filed under: estate tax,Kevin Staker — Kevin Staker @ 4:28 pm
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No hard news on Senate Leader Reid forcing the showdown in the Senate on the tax cuts.  The New York Times reports Reid has not yet scheduled the vote. However,  David Dayen at firedog lake.com reports the Senate vote may as early as next Monday.  He has an excellent analysis of the procedural intricacies in the Senate and the House.  Christina Bellantoni at talkingpointsmemo.com also has a good technical analysis of the procedure.  Greg Sargent at WaPo with a follow up article stating the Democrats in  the Senate are planning their move forward.  Says might be an amendment to another bill.  If that the case, the estate tax might not be addressed I would fear.

Interesting dueling opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal.  The authors are two academics for whom I have great respect and have heard speak many times over the last couple of decades.

I became acquainted with each through the USC Tax Institute.  I remember Michael Graetz spoke to the Institute back in 1986 when I believe he was the tax policy head for the U. S. Treasury and at the Institute announced for the first time the details of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  Ed McCafferty has been with USC Law School for many years and has been a delight to hear speak on various tax issues.

Mr. Graetz who is now a professor at Columbia Law School.  He opines that the estate tax is fair, and we need the revenue. Mr. McCafferty, on the other hand, opines that the estate tax is unfair, and there is a better way.   Both have persuasive arguments.  However, politically Graetz will prevail.  The vote in the Senate to repeal the estate tax lost 39-61 a few weeks ago.  On the other hand, this author believes it is now more likely that we will have a $3,500,000 estate tax exemption as opposed to only a $1,000,000.  Hence, the estate tax will have been repealed for 98 percent of all estates, and so McCafferty will get his way, 98 percent of the time.

By Kevin Staker

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