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Greenstein on HuffPo: Further Estate Tax Cut Would Be a Disgrace

December 19, 2012 at 1:12 AM

In a new column for the Huffington Post, CBPP President Robert Greenstein explained why lavishing a new tax cut for the heirs and heiresses of the nation's hugest estates would be a disgrace:

Policymakers hope to cut federal deficits by trillions of dollars over the next decade, requiring wrenching choices and likely imposing painful sacrifices on millions of Americans. So it's astonishing that they're also considering million-dollar tax cuts for a few thousand of the nation's wealthiest heirs and heiresses by extending an extravagant 2010 cut in the tax on inherited estates that's set to expire at year-end.

The cost: $119 billion over the next decade, compared to restoring the estate tax rules in effect in 2009, as President Obama has proposed and the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission assumed. This lavish new tax break would confer a $1.1 million average tax cut per estate on the estates of the richest three out of 1,000 people who die.

If policymakers blithely toss away $119 billion, then other Americans will have to sacrifice more as part of the deficit-cutting effort. To put the figure in perspective, policymakers could raise roughly the same amount over the next decade by raising the age at which seniors qualify for Medicare from 65 to 67 (affecting more than five million people by 2021) or shutting both the FBI and Food and Drug Administration.

Read the full column.