What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : Tax Breaks for the Rich : S Con Res 70. (Fiscal 2009 budget resolution) Kyl of Arizona amendment that would adjust the maximum estate tax rate and exemption/On agreeing to the amendment
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S Con Res 70. (Fiscal 2009 budget resolution) Kyl of Arizona amendment that would adjust the maximum estate tax rate and exemption/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 77     Mar 13, 2008
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on an amendment by Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that would allow for a change in the estate tax.  Specifically, Kyl’s amendment would reduce the estate tax rate from 46 percent to 35 percent, along with language that would provide individual exemptions of $5 million per spouse.  The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2009. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

The estate tax is the tax charged on property that’s willed to someone upon their death (hence why Republicans often refer to the tax as the “death tax.”) Easing or repealing the estate tax has been a priority for anti-tax conservatives for some time.  Republicans argue that the estate tax hampers small businesses and family farmers; they also say the estate tax amounts to “double taxation.”
 
“We only have 1 year to go before the estate tax is totally repealed. In the year 2010, there is no more estate tax, and then the year after that, it comes roaring back with a rate of 60 percent and an exemption of $1 million,” Kyl said in arguing for his amendment.  “Clearly, we have to provide some certainty.”

Democrats counter that attempts to repeal or ease the estate tax are mainly for those who are already wealthy, since the tax affects a relatively small number of people. In order to be subject to an estate tax, the estate being willed must exceed a total taxable value of $1 million – according to the Internal Revenue Service, only 2 percent of estates are subject to the estate tax. 

Kent Conrad, D-N.D., opposed Kyl’s amendment because it is not paid for; Conrad said it would create $200 billion in debt over the next 10 years.

The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 48-50.  All but one Republican present voted for the amendment (George Voinovich of Ohio).  All but one Democrat present voted against the amendment (Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas).  The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have adjusted downward the maximum estate tax rate and upward the maximum exemption amount.

 

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