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Center pushes to keep estate tax

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RALEIGH, N.C. — President-elect Barack Obama proposal to cut the estate tax would benefit only 379 wealthy North Carolinians, the North Carolina Justice Center says.

“At a time when the wealth gap between rich and poor is at its greatest level since 1929, slashing the tax would hurt working families even more,” Elaine Mejia, director of the Budget & Tax Center at the Justice Center, says in a statement.

The estate tax, which applies to property valued at more than $1 million that is left by wealthy citizens after their deaths, is expected to generate $23 billion next year.

Only 0.5 percent of North Carolina estates and less than 1 percent of families throughout the U.S. are subject to the tax, the center says.

Obama’s proposal modifies a law enacted by President George W. Bush in 2001 that would eliminate the estate tax entirely by 2010.

Instead of repealing the tax, lawmakers should amend it to benefit working families, Mejia says.

This measure could include raising the $1 million minimum value of taxable estates and using tax revenue to fund educational programs, she says.

The Budget & Tax Center analyzes state and local tax issues and their impact on low- and moderate-income North Carolinians.

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