Kyl seeks to add an estate tax fix to small-business bill

“We would like to bring it forward as an amendment to the small-business bill, but it’s up the leader,” Kyl said. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has engaged a procedural maneuver called “filling the tree” that limits the number of amendments that can be offered on a particular bill.  

The Senate returned to the small-business bill earlier on Tuesday. Reid signaled that Republicans will be able to offer amendments to the bill. 

“We are working to get an agreement with Republicans on a list of amendments to the bill,” a Reid staffer told The Hill. 

Kyl hopes his proposal will make the list. 

“He [Reid] has signaled that there could be amendments on both sides, but probably a limited number and I don’t know if this will be one of them,” Kyl said. “We have to wait and talk to him to see if we can make it happen.”

Under the Kyl-Lincoln proposal, estates worth more than $3.5 million would initially be exempt from the tax. That exemption level would rise to $5 million over a 10-year period. The tax rate would also be phased-in, ending at 35 percent after 10 years. Estates would have the option to prepay the tax at a lower rate.   

Kyl said the proposal fully complies with pay-as-you-go rules, which stipulate that any cost above 2009 estate tax law must be offset. Last year, estates worth more than $3.5 million incurred a tax that topped out at 45 percent.

If history is any indication, the Kyl-Lincoln proposal just might pass if Reid allows a vote on it. The senators introduced a similar measure during the FY 2010 budget debate that was narrowly adopted by 51-48. However, 60 votes might be needed to attach their proposal to the small-business bill.