On May 4, 2010, two articles reported comments by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus on the federal estate tax:
- Politico published Baucus moves on biz tax package, by David Rogers.
- Jay Heflin posted Baucus sees action on small business bill, estate tax soon in On the Money: The Hill’s Finance & Economy Blog.
Heflin’s opening sentence encapsulates the news: “Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Tuesday said action on a small business tax bill could occur soon and a fix for the estate tax may not be far behind it.”
Heflin reports that “Baucus said talks on the estate tax and the small business bill are happening simultaneously. . . . Staffers said there would likely have to be an agreement on both the estate and small business bill for both measures to advance.” It is interesting to note that the current talks are not just about the merits of an estate tax and the policies for or against it. Rather, the estate tax is part of a broader discussion about ways to stimulate small businesses. One can see the estate tax as a mere bargaining chip that Senators are using to get other reform. Alternatively, one might argue that the other reform is being offered to reach an agreement on federal estate tax reform. Either way, these negotiations are an example of the give-and-take that is integral to our political system.
In Finally Some Sign of Rousing to Action in the Senate (Estate Tax News Blog), Kevin Staker writes, “It is encouraging that it is reported that Senator Baucus has been consulting with Senator Grassley, the Republican leader of the Committee, and with Rep. Sander Levin, his counterpart in the House.”
Heflin reports that Senator Kyl recently told The Hill that estates might have a choice in complying with the current repeal or the new bill once legislation is enacted. Giving such might avoid a constitutional challenge to a retroactively imposed estate tax; however, it would be one of the biggest loopholes for the rich that ever existed.