Analyst suggests return to 2009 estate tax levels

Eliminating the estate tax would be a "major mistake" and "would only benefit the wealthiest estates in the country," a policy analyst said Tuesday. 

"Our country is facing very large budget deficits," said Chuck Marr, the director of federal tax policy for the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in a blog post. "If we repeal the estate tax, deficits and debt will go up even more, pressure will grow to cut health care, education, and other key programs that people rely on. Sacrificing these priorities in order to give a tax cut to people who already are extremely wealthy is not a wise trade-off.

"We need a robust estate tax, and at a minimum we should keep the law as it was in 2009, which essentially exempted more than 99 percent of estates," Marr wrote.

Before Congress passed legislation in 2001, the exemption was a $1 million per-person tax-free exemption. The legislation gradually raised the exemption of $3.5 million per person and $7 million for a couple with a rate of 45 percent in 2009. The tax was repealed this year. 

Lawmakers have been trying to work out an agreement on the estate tax for 2011 but have yet to reach an accord.