Death-tax fight – Reprieve urged

A plan by President Bush to end the death tax in 2011 is picking up growing opposition from wealthy Americans, The Wall Street Journal reported May 23.

More than 1,000 billionaires, multimillionaires and other wealthy people oppose total repeal, with some calling for big changes such as a steep hike in the basic exclusion — $675,000 this year – that would end the tax for the all but the wealthiest, the Journal said.

“We want to mend it, not end it,” said Bill Gates Sr., father of the Microsoft chief and head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Big changes now could be a savvy move for Bush, whose plan would give little immediate relief but end the estate tax altogether in 10 years, the Journal said.

And even if lawmakers vote to end the tax in 2011, financial advisers told the Journal, repeal likely won’t take effect, based on the frequency of tax changes in recent years.

And Responsible Wealth, a Boston-based nonprofit, says complete repeal would give an unfair boost to a tiny group of the wealthiest people, forcing less affluent taxpayers to pick up the tab, the Journal said.

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