“Very soon we’re going to have a process on
how estate tax reform is going to move forward,” he said, adding, “I will
insist on an agreement on how to proceed, if we’re going to have unanimous
consent on how to proceed with any of these subsequent bills.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
said travel promotion legislation would be brought forward after his chamber
completes action on the jobs bill. Legislation extending expiring tax breaks is
also likely to come up later in the week. Kyl said either measure could be
vehicles for the estate tax.

{mosads}“It’s time to get with it,” he said.

Specifics on the estate tax remain influx,
but Kyl said it would likely be similar to an amendment he and Sen. Blanche
Lincoln (D-Ark.) presented during last year’s budget debate.  Their
provision created a 35 percent tax on estates worth more than $10 million per
couple.

“That will be pretty close, there’s going
to be some tweaking,” he said.

Under budget rules, Kyl must offset a
portion of his bill and he is reviewing option on that front.

“Some of them may be new,” he said, but
did not offer specifics.

Well-placed sources say the senators might
create a “toll charge” on charitable foundations that would sock Democratic
heavyweights like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Kyl discounted the idea, but
said nothing had been agreed to.

The estate tax is currently repealed and
reinstating it raises constitutional issues.  Benefactors can claim the
tax is unconstitutional since it was not in effect when the estate of their
loved one was created.

Kyl opposes making the tax retroactive to
avoid the constitutional question. He floated the idea of presenting taxpayers
with a choice of either abiding by current estate tax law or complying with
whatever level of tax is created later this year.

“One way, not necessarily the only way,
would be to give them an option,” he said.  

Barring congressional action, the estate
tax returns next year to pre-2001 levels by socking estates worth more than $1
million with a tax that tops out at 55 percent. This does not include the 5
percent surtax on wealth transfers ranging between $10 million and $17.18
million.

Senate leaders attempted to agree on a
process for moving the estate tax during negotiations over jobs legislation
created by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the panel’s
ranking member, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Reid scrapped their $85 billion proposal
and instead moved a more targeted, $15 billion bill that killed any chance for
an agreement on the estate tax being tied to jobs legislation.

“Reid scuttled it all when he went ahead
with his bill,” Grassley told The Hill.

Tags Chuck Grassley Harry Reid Max Baucus

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