WASHINGTON – House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said the chamber will vote this week to permanently extend the estate tax rates scheduled to expire at the end of 2009, but the road will be tougher in the Senate.
The House will take up a bill introduced by Democrat Earl Pomeroy last week to extend the current policy of taxing estates over a $3.5 million threshold at a rate of 45 percent.
"We believe that a permanent extension of the existing law is the best policy," Steny Hoyer, the chamber's majority leader, told reporters.
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Preserving the current rates will be harder in the U.S. Senate, because that body's rules require a way to pay for it.
A 10-year extension of the tax would cost an estimated $234 billion versus allowing the tax to revert to a higher rate in 2011, as currently scheduled, according to congressional aides.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has proposed extending the current 2009 law and indexing it to inflation but the Senate's intense focus on healthcare and limited days in the legislative calendar add further hurdles.
The most likely option, analysts have said, is a one-year extension, which would actually raise some money, because the tax is currently due to be phased out for one year in 2010.
But federal estate taxes are due to come roaring back to life after 2010, unless Congress acts, with an exemption of $1 million for individuals and a tax rate of 55 percent.
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