Oppose Repeal of the Estate Tax

Media 06.6,06

Recipient: Senators

Dear Senator:

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, urges you to oppose any proposals to permanently repeal or significantly reduce the federal estate tax. America’s working families are already struggling to overcome the challenges of rising health care and housing costs, and cuts in public education. Full repeal will cost this nation nearly $1 trillion during the first ten years. Reducing revenues so dramatically would divert needed funds from investments in education, healthcare, and other vital services, such as rebuilding the devastated Gulf Coast. At a time when some Congressional leaders are responding by cutting the safety net for vulnerable Americans, it is reprehensible to grant costly tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.

It is important to note that the proposals under consideration would benefit only a few extremely wealthy estates. With the current 2006 exemption of $2 million per person, 99.73% of estates pay no estate tax. In 2006, experts estimate only 6,343 estates in all of America will pay this tax. In addition, current law increases this exemption to $3.5 million per person in 2009, which will further reduce the number of affected estates. Simply put, very few estates are taxed, only the largest are affected, and many heirs are already multi-millionaires or billionaires. In fact, according to a recent report by the Federal Reserve, the richest 5% of Americans already own 55.5% of the wealth. In fact, the wealthiest 1% of Americans already own 33.4% of the wealth, which exceeds the 30.4% of wealth owned by America’s bottom 90%. America’s wealth is already so concentrated that a few wealthy estates are richer than the combined wealth of millions of other American families. Congress should not put tax breaks for these few rich families ahead of the needs of the vast majority of Americans.

If Congress enacts these dramatic changes, it would inevitably force Congress to either: (1) reduce investments in education, healthcare, job training, and other vital services; (2) increase the federal debt; and/or (3) raise taxes on working families. While the interests of the vast majority of Americans are compromised, nearly all of the benefits would accrue to the super-rich. During a time when educational spending and social services are being slashed, cutting the taxes of the country’s wealthiest 1% to the detriment of the nation’s most vulnerable populations is an unconscionable statement on the priorities of Congress.

We urge you to retain the estate tax and strongly oppose any so called “reform” proposals. If you have questions or concerns, please contact LCCR Deputy Director Nancy Zirkin or LCCR Counsel Valerie Frias at 202.466.3311.


Wade Henderson,
Executive Director

Nancy Zirkin
Deputy Director