Business and farm groups are making a determined effort to rein in the estate tax before it expands significantly at the end of the year.
Thanks to a deal approved in late 2010, the estate tax is among a long list of fiscal issues awaiting action from Congress, including the extension of the George W. Bush-era tax rates and budget sequestration.
With a legislative logjam forming for the lame duck, lobbying groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the American Farm Bureau Federation are reminding lawmakers not to forget about their issue.
“It’s a little trickier than in past years,” said Mark Maslyn, executive director for public policy at the farm bureau. “It is something we’ve anticipated and expected. And it’s only going to get more intense as we go to the end of the year.”
The battle lines are already forming over the estate tax, which has been through wild swings in recent years.
Business and farm groups, and many congressional Republicans, would prefer to see the estate tax abolished.
But with that an unlikely scenario, at least this year, GOP lawmakers are instead pushing to extend the estate tax parameters included in the 2010 deal. That deal set the maximum tax rate at 35 percent with a $5 million exemption, indexed for inflation after 2011.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have prepared a broad tax-plan package that would return the estate tax to the 2009 levels of a 45 percent rate for estates, with a $3.5 million exemption, while extending Bush-era rates on family income up to $250,000.