House Democrats offer bill to expand the estate tax

House Democrats offer bill to expand the estate tax
© Greg Nash

Dozens of House Democrats have introduced legislation to expand the estate tax, as progressives make a push to substantially increase taxes on wealthy individuals.

Rep. Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezJohn Kerry: GOP lawmaker against coronavirus package 'tested positive for being an ---hole' Lawmakers highlight flights back to DC for huge coronavirus vote Hispanic Democrats demand funding for multilingual coronavirus messaging MORE (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the bill and a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, cast the measure as a way to address inequality in the country.

"Through my legislation – the For the 99.8% Act – we can take a progressive step forward in addressing our country’s rapidly increasing wealth inequality by strengthening the estate tax and ensuring the wealthiest among us pay their fair share," he said in a press release on Friday.

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Gomez's measure is identical to a bill Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocratic senators call on domestic airlines to issue cash refunds for travelers Sanders still sees 'narrow path' to Democratic presidential nomination Tenants call on lawmakers to pass rent freezes MORE (I-Vt.) introduced in the Senate earlier this year, according to a spokesman for the congressman.

The House bill has more than three dozen co-sponsors — including prominent progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus Ocasio-Cortez blasts coronavirus stimulus package as 'shameful' on House floor Oil price drop threatens US fracking boom MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Undocumented aliens should stay away as COVID-19 rages in the US The Southern Poverty Law Center and yesterday's wars MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Presssley (D-Mass.). It also has the backing of a number of labor unions and progressive groups.

Under current law, individuals can leave up to $11.4 million to heirs through their estates before the money is taxed. Amounts above that level are taxed at 40 percent.

Under the Democrats' bill, assets between $3.5 million and $10 million would be taxed at a progressive rate structure starting at 45 percent, while the value of estates greater than $1 billion would be taxed at a rate of 77 percent.

The bill is also designed to prevent wealthy people from being able to use certain strategies to avoid paying estate taxes.

The bill's introduction comes as many Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates have been floating various ways to increase taxes on the rich in order to reduce wealth inequality and raise revenue to finance spending priorities. Several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have said they want to expand the estate tax.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE's 2017 tax-cut law significantly increased the amount of money exempt from the estate tax. Many Republicans want to completely eliminate the tax.