The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lee Farris, UFE Estate Tax Policy Coordinator, 617-423-2148 x133 or 617-835-7725;

Brian Miller, UFE Executive Director, 617-423-2148 x111;

Wealthy Individuals Call for Stronger Estate Tax They Would Pay

On Heels of House Vote, Bill Gates, Sr., Mutual Fund Founder John Bogle, Richard Rockefeller Join United for a Fair Economy to Urge the Senate to Act before Tax Expires


On the heels of a recent House vote to extend the current estate tax, wealthy individuals, including Bill Gates Sr.; Vanguard Fund founder John Bogle; the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, Richard Rockefeller;
along with Anna Burger of the national labor union, SEIU, are calling
on the Senate to act before the holiday recess to strengthen the estate
tax. If the Senate doesn't act, there will be no estate tax in 2010.

The high profile individuals, organized by the national nonprofit United for a Fair Economy (UFE),
say weakening the estate tax or letting it disappear will result in
significant losses in revenue for the federal government. This revenue
supports the vital public structures and systems transportation and
energy infrastructure, education and healthcare, among others that
are the foundation of broad-based prosperity and economic stability.
"In making the 2009 estate tax cut permanent, the House of
Representatives would give a huge $391 billion tax-break to the
wealthiest 1% of Americans over ten years, at a time when economic
inequality has skyrocketed," states Lee Farris, UFE's Estate Tax Policy
Coordinator. "That's why it's so important that a group of wealthy
individuals, the very beneficiaries of this massive tax giveaway, are
standing with one of our nation's largest unions and calling for a
stronger estate tax."

Anna Burger of SEIU adds, "Under the current law, each child could
inherit $3.5 million, tax free. That means each child would receive
more, tax free, than the average worker would earn in two lifetimes.
And the worker would be paying taxes on their earnings. Each of these
children would receive more, tax-free, than 240 minimum wage workers
would receive in a year."

The US House of Representatives recently cast a 225-200 vote in favor
of Rep. Earl Pomeroy's estate tax proposal, which makes 2009 estate tax
law permanent, with a $3.5 million exemption ($7 million for married
couples), and a 45% tax rate. If the Senate agrees, the result would be
a loss of $391 billion over the 10 years starting in 2012. If no vote
is taken this year, the estate tax will disappear on January 1, 2010,
and then revert to a $1 million exemption per spouse with a 55% rate in

UFE supports Rep. Jim McDermott's Sensible Estate Tax Act, HR 2023,
which represents a middle ground between the 2009 and 2011 laws.
McDermott's bill would raise $31 billion more in federal revenue over
10 years than the House bill, while improving the tax by indexing it
for inflation and rebating estate tax payments to the states.

Bill Gates, Sr. states, "No one accumulates a fortune without the help
of our society's investments. How much wealth would exist without
America's unique property rights protections, public infrastructure,
and academic institutions? We should celebrate the estate tax as an
"economic opportunity recycling" program, where previous generations
made investments for us and now it's our turn to pass on the gift.
Strengthening the estate tax is important to our democracy."

John C. Bogle, founder and former CEO of The Vanguard Group says, "To
me, passing a stronger estate tax is a matter of ethics, of
responsibility, of pride in citizenship, and it's the right fiscal
choice for our country." He adds, "I don't ever forget, as do some of
my colleagues, that I benefited from a lot of business incentives and
tax laws as I was building Vanguard Group to what it is today, and I
owe some of that back."

In addition to the spokespeople at today's event, UFE has gathered over
2,000 signatures from high-wealth individuals across the country who
expect to pay the estate tax, yet support its preservation as a matter
of principle and fiscal responsibility.

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