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APRIL 5, 2001
3:52 PM
CONTACT:  Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020
Estate Tax: Interviews Available
WASHINGTON - April 5 - Yesterday the House passed a bill to eliminate the estate tax. These analysts are available for interviews:

ELLEN GURZINSKY, [via Linda Thurston],
Executive director of the Funding Exchange, Gurzinsky said today: "The estate tax is raised from the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans -- those who leave more than $675,000 at the time of death. More than half of all estate taxes are paid by those with household wealth over $5 million.... Without the estate tax, charitable contributions will decrease dramatically. The Treasury Department estimates that repeal could reduce charitable contributions by $5 billion to $6 billion a year, while others say the amount would be even greater. Typically, about a third of all money from bequests goes to educational, medical and scientific institutions, a third to private foundations, and a quarter to social services. This repeal of one of the few progressive taxes in the nation is something our philanthropic community and our democracy can ill afford."

Conley is director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research at New York University and author of Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth and Social Policy in America. Conley said today: "The number of African-American millionaires who would benefit from estate tax repeal is infinitesimally small. Rather, repeal would provide a windfall for the wealthiest whites in America and would only exacerbate the black-white 'equity inequity.' Overall, the typical white family enjoys a net worth that is more than seven times that of its non-white counterpart.... Millionaires don't need any more incentives to save; poor folks do. The estate and gift taxes are about the only social policies left that act as a small restraint on the runaway train of wealth inequality."

Owner of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, Wicks said today: "As a small business person, I'm a supporter of the estate tax. At a time when the growing gap between the rich and the poor is a threat to our democracy, our political leaders should be devising ways to counter that trend towards a society of haves and have-nots. Instead, they are accelerating the wealth gap. This is a windfall for the wealthiest in our society which will likely be made up by increasing taxes on working people and/or decreasing services for those in need. Many are claiming that the estate tax prevents people from handing their business to their children, but that's not accurate. My daughter would like to inherit the business and this tax doesn't prevent that."

Co-director of United for a Fair Economy, co-author of Economic Apartheid in America and convenor of Responsible Wealth's "Call to Preserve the Estate Tax," now signed by over 750 wealthy people, Collins said today: "The House estate tax bill is a shameful and irresponsible action. They have purposefully hidden the real costs of repealing the estate tax, putting ideology ahead of fiscal responsibility. Big campaign contributors get a windfall at the expense of America's fiscal health.... The richest 1 percent of households now have over 40 percent of all private wealth; in the mid-'70s, 1 percent had 20 percent."


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