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House votes to scale back estate tax

[JURIST] Led by Republicans willing to delay a push to abolish the estate tax completely, the US House of Representatives [official website] voted Thursday to end taxation for single estates up to $5 million and married couples' estates up to $10 million, beginning in 2011. The bill [HR 5638 summary] would reduce tax rates on even larger estates as well, costing the federal government a total of $283 billion in revenue over 10 years. Though most Republicans supported the cuts, Democrats argued that they mainly benefit the rich and lamented that poor workers were recently denied an increase of the minimum wage.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where supporters of repealing the estate tax last week failed to get enough votes to begin floor debate on the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005 [HR 8 summary], which would have allowed some wealthy families, farmers, and small-business owners to avoid the estate tax entirely. That bill was approved by the House [JURIST report] last year. AP has more.

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