On January 20, 2010, the U.S. Senate took an unusual procedural step in placing HR 4154, the “Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Businesses Bill of 2009” directly on the Senate calendar. In taking this action, the Senate is in the position to completely bypass the Senate Finance Committee, which is the main tax-writing committee in the Senate. As previously reported by my law partner, Jeff Cheyne, the estate tax expired on December 31, 2009 after the Senate failed to act to approve legislation that would have extended the estate tax.
HR 4154 was passed by the House of Representatives on December 3, 2009 by a vote of 225-to-200. The legislation would permanently extend the current exemption for estates up to $3.5 million per individual and $7 million for married couples and set a maximum rate of 45 percent on estates above this threshold. If passed by the Senate, the legislation would, in effect, retroactively restore the estate tax effective as of January 1, 2010.
I welcome your comments and questions.