This afternoon, HR 1104, the "Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act," passed the House by voice vote.
Tomorrow the House is scheduled to vote HR 1105, legislation repealing the death tax. Like all taxes, the death tax distorts the market, and, like many government programs, benefits a well-connected special interest.
Tim Carney, writing in 2006, the last time the Senate considered death tax repeal, explains how the American Council of Life Insurance spends millions lobbying to preserve the death tax so their members can continue to sell products designed dot help protect people from the tax:
Frank Keating, former conservative Republican governor of Oklahoma, might just save the death tax this week. With a vote to repeal permanently the federal estate tax slated for this week, Republican senators have begun recently discussing a compromise (as they refer to it, of course) that would preserve the tax while raising the exemption and lowering the rates–an idea Keating has been pushing since he became the top lobbyist for the life-insurance industry.
.......Keating is just representing his clients. The former Oklahoma governor now heads the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), and is a registered lobbyist for them on tax issues, including the death tax. He told Robert Novak last month that his recent visits to the Hill have been for other purposes, but that he talks to lawmakers about the repeal when he is asked. ACLI wants the estate tax preserved. Aside from Keating’s personal populist and intestinal views on the tax, life insurers have a clear financial interest in preserving the estate tax. Life insurance done right is a prime form of estate planning, as are annuities–two products sold by the companies which pay Keating’s salary. Both products would become far less appealing if Uncle Sam weren’t threatening to tax a hefty portion of your estate upon your demise......
This week there will be a battle for the hearts of Republican senators. On one side are the conservatives who will try to hold the GOP to their promises to abolish this tax President Bush has derided for years as unfair. On the other side will be big business, which sees in the death tax, as in so many cases, just how big government and higher taxes can serve its purposes.
Tags: Congress, Death Tax