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Some thoughts on your post...

The best tax legislation for millions of Americans is:

* A federal estate tax exemption for all qualified retirement plans.

[This has not drawn any attention either from the House or the Senate version of estate tax reform.]

This leaves out a lot of sources of net worth -- property, unsheltered stock/mutual fund accounts, whole life insurance policies. For example, my grandmother doesn't have a 401k (not offered in her working days) and probably not much in an IRA -- again, in her day the company funded pension was in vogue. It isn't too much of a stretch that someone like her could exceed the federal limit with no 'qualified' retirement plans.

* Complete estate tax elimination is not until 10 years.

[Are you satisfied that within 10 years it will not be taken away?]

No, I imagine that as soon as another entitlement-driven Democratic Congress takes control of the House and Senate, any progress on lifting the tax burden would probably take a leap backwards.

The value here is that such an inevitable move would be unpopular and politically risky. If a 10 year plan is not in place, such a Congress would not have to take the action to stop it.

* Starting in 2001 estate and gift tax rates will be reduced but for the next 10 years they will range between 50 and 40 percent.

[Do you consider 50 to 40 percent substantial or insignificant?]

It is certainly not substantial. I don't see where you address the rates themselves in the rest of your post, so would like to know what you consider significant.

Taking the 'glass is half full' approach, any reduction is at least moving in the right direction.

What is not discussed in your post or the flurry of others on HR8 is the concept of whether ANY taxes on an estate is reasonable or fair. This board is probably not the proper forum to discuss it, but we all know that the assets in one's estate have been taxed as salary and in many cases, annually as capital gains. The estate tax is a final insult to a lot of people who have paid much more than their share.

So I hope the discussion remains fixed on ELIMINATING the estate tax, not modifying it.

Stepping off my soapbox,

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