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The federal estate tax was fully repealed by a prior Congress, but it was permitted by political gridlock and fiscal dysfunction to resurrect itself, despite a bipartisan chorus of critics. Now, with the fiscal cliff looming, the tax is at risk of being preserved by the sheer weight of the looming fiscal carnage.
It doesn’t have to end this way. We have laid out a blueprint for how the estate tax could be replaced by a temporary levy to make up for lost revenue, as well as using a change from stepped-up to carry-over basis to tap new capital gains revenues. This approach has the potential to engage thoughtful legislators from across the political spectrum, taking one large issue off the table while improving the tax code.
The ASSET proposal throws a lifeline to congressional leaders looking for bipartisan solutions to both the growth deficit and the fiscal cliff that can permanently improve the tax code. We hope they grasp it.
Jack Fitzgerald, owner of Fitzgerald Auto Group, is president of Americans Standing for the Simplification of the Estate Tax. Doyle Pearl and Patrick Painter are members of ASSET.