House Republican bashes impact of estate tax

The Texas Republican also noted that more than half of the House had signed on to his bill. A Senate measure, sponsored by John Thune (R-S.D.), has the support of 37 Senators, all of them Republican.

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“We’re hopeful that we can successfully make this argument before November,” Brady said.

The congressman’s comments came as Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee, where Brady is the vice chairman, released a study detailing what they said were the negative impacts of the estate tax.

Senate Republicans have also hammered their Democratic counterparts in recent days for dropping an estate tax provision from their proposal to extend Bush-era rates on family income up to $250,000 a year.

Current estate tax policy sets a top rate of 35 percent, and an exemption of $5 million, indexed to 2010 dollars.

Senate Democrats had proposed returning the tax to 2009 parameters, with a 45 percent top rate and a $3.5 million exemption. If lawmakers do nothing, the top rate will balloon back to 55 percent, with a $1 million exemption.

In the new report, Republicans on the JEC say the estate tax is not only an inefficient collector of revenue, but that it also distorts economic growth and employment.

For instance, the GOP report says the estate tax has only raised around $1.3 trillion in revenue since being implemented in 1916. It also says the tax does little to combat income inequality, and is actually a barrier to economic mobility.

“The estate tax is a significant hindrance to entrepreneurial activity because many family businesses lack sufficient liquid assets to pay estate tax liabilities,” the report says.

Democrats have said that changing the estate tax from current levels back to 2009 parameters would affect a limited number of households.

GOP leaders in the Senate have blasted Democrats for allowing the sharp increase in the estate tax. Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, said recently that allowing current rates to expire would force 24 times as many farms to be hit by the estate tax, and 13 times more small businesses.

Democrats dropped the estate tax provision to try to maximize support for their broader tax plan. Some Democrats, such as Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), have also suggested they prefer the current estate tax policy.