What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : Tax Breaks for the Rich : S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Kyl of Arizona amendment to reduce the estate tax/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 102)
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S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Kyl of Arizona amendment to reduce the estate tax/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 102     Mar 23, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote occurred on an amendment by Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that would have significantly eased the estate tax, the tax charged on property that's willed to someone upon their death (hence why Republicans often refer to the tax as the "death tax.") Easing or repealing the estate tax has been a priority for fiscal conservatives for some time. Republicans argue that the estate tax hampers small businesses and family farmers; they also say the estate tax amounts to "double taxation."

Democrats counter that attempts to repeal the estate tax amount to corporate welfare, since the tax affects a relatively small number of people. In order to be subject to an estate tax, the estate being willed must exceed a total taxable value of $1 million -- according to the Internal Revenue Service, only 2 percent of estates are subject to the estate tax. (Kyl's amendment would have raised the taxation threshold, so that the estate tax would only apply to those whose estates exceed a total taxable value of $5 million, indexed for inflation).

"The whole point of an exemption is so people would not have to worry about spending all the money on insurance and lawyers and accountants, and so on, to plan against the estate tax. That is why you want an exempted amount such as the $5 million, but it is important it doesn't get eroded over time," Kyl said. "The time for reform has come. Adopting this amendment will make that point in a general way."

The amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress' budget priorities in fiscal 2008. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he could not support Kyl's amendment because it would cost too much money, adding some $35 billion to the federal deficit.

"This amendment, by Senator Kyl, whom I respect, is not paid for. I would say to my colleagues, if this is a priority, why not pay for it? The hard reality is that if this amendment before us now is adopted--the Kyl amendment--it blows a hole in the budget, puts us back into deficit, after we have worked so hard all these hours to get a balanced budget by 2012," Conrad said.

The amendment was rejected on a largely party line vote of 48-51. Democrats were unanimously against the amendment, while one Republican voted with Democrats -- George Voinovich of Ohio.

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