On June 24, 2010, Forbes.com published Three Senators Call For Billionaire Estate Surtax, by Janet Novack. This articles should be read in its entirety, but here are a few relevant paragraphs:
In a new twist on the political stalemate over the future of the now lapsed estate tax, three of the Senate's most liberal members are calling for a 10% estate "billionaire's surtax" which would raise the levy on their estates to 65%. The tax would apply to estates above $500 million, which Sens. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., say would allow each couple to pass $1 billion on to heirs without facing the surtax. . . .
The three senators' proposal would be retroactive to the start of 2010, which would likely face a court challenge from Duncan's heirs as well as others. A Sanders aide said he believes such retroactivity would be constitutional and would withstand a court test. . . .
The three liberal senators say that under their new counterproposal, 99.7% of families would pay no estate tax. They would exempt $3.5 million per estate ($7 million per couple) from any estate tax and levy a rate of 45% above that, the same as in 2009. Moreover, family farms would be allowed to exclude an additional $3 million in value per estate. But the liberals would also add higher rates that didn't exist last year. The value of estates between $10 million and $50 million would be taxed at 50%, while assets up to $500 million would face a 55% tax. Then the billionaire's surtax would kick in.