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Press Release

Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Tells Lawmakers: Pick Up Your Shovels, Back Senator Sessions' Bill to Bury Death Tax

For Immediate Release May 10, 2005

(Washington, DC) - It shouldn't take five years for a tax on dying to die temporarily - just one of many reasons why new legislation from Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that would repeal the federal death tax immediately received a strong endorsement today from the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

"The main effects of the estate and gift taxes have been to create an industry for thousands of highly-paid lawyers and estate planners, to help the super-wealthy waste time and money avoiding them, and to bankrupt successful family businesses when their owners die," said NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul Gessing today at a Capitol Hill event in support of Sessions' bill. "Thanks to Senator Sessions' worthy proposal, Congress no longer has an excuse to wait five years for temporary repeal of a tax that ought to be buried six feet under right now."

Last month, NTU's lobbying team was in the thick of the action when the House of Representatives voted strongly in favor of making repeal of the federal death tax permanent after 2010. However, one option likely to surface during Senate debate over the death tax is a "carve-out" that would exempt "family-owned" businesses from this punitive levy. Gessing contends that such a scheme, proposed in the previous Congress by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), would be unworkable. Citing data from the respected estate law firm Sirote & Permutt, he noted that only eight of the firm's 200 clients would have qualified for the exemption.

"Retaining even part of the death tax would allow future Congresses to once again expand the burden, while businesses of many sizes would continue to spend countless hours and dollars attempting to stay on the 'right side' of whatever paltry relief programs the Senate would enact," Gessing said. "Getting rid of the death tax entirely makes sense not only for these firms, but for the government too, since the economic benefits of repeal would probably lead to an increase in net federal revenues from other kinds of taxes."

Although the House's vote did not immediately repeal both estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes, Gessing believes that Senate passage of Sessions' bill, the Jobs Protection and Estate Tax Reform Act of 2005 (S. 988), would give added momentum to similar efforts in the House. NTU activities on behalf of full and prompt death tax repeal in both chambers have included grassroots lobbying, coalition activities, interactive e-mail alerts to NTU members, and earned media campaigns.

"Senator Sessions deserves a round of applause for acting to end the death tax nightmare so taxpayers can more fully pursue the American Dream," Gessing concluded. "Now the Senator's colleagues should give him a hand in passing this vital legislation."

NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working for lower taxes and smaller government. Note: Additional NTU statements and studies on the death tax, including Gessing's letter of support for Senator Sessions' legislation, may be accessed at