Sorry for that headline. Love the alliteration, but disagree (as detailed in this blog post) with those who use impending mortality as a semantic tool to get the estate tax repealed.
Actually, the the estate tax will soon disappear, but for one year only in 2010. Then it is scheduled to go back on the books in a more stringent incarnation the following year.
The discussion on just what to do about the estate tax continued today at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Alternatives to the Current Federal Estate Tax System. It was the second in a series of Senate Finance Committee examinations of the estate tax system. A third hearing on the issue will be in April.
In his opening remarks, Committee Chairman Max Baucus (Dem.-Montana) expressed hope that he and his colleagues could take an outside-the-box look at the current estate tax laws and potential bipartisan reform possibilities,
Good luck with that bipartisan goal, Mr. Chairman. But Baucus got it right when he noted that the estate tax laws are complicated, intimidating and, thanks to temporary law changes, uncertain in application.
As for ways to deal with those estate tax concerns, today's hearing looked at taxing beneficiaries, income exclusions and how other countries tax estates. The witnesses were three tax professors:
Click on the profs' names to read their formal testimony.
Additional information: In conjunction with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation (kudos for a much improved Web site design, by the way) released the document Description and Analysis of Alternative Wealth Transfer Tax Systems.