Indiana Daily Student

Estate tax bill reaches Clinton

The estate tax bill impacts a small percentage of people, but John Hostetler (R-8th) said it's enough to hurt Indiana farmers and small business owners.\nHostetler is calling on President Bill Clinton to accept rather than veto the bill, which would eliminate estate taxes ' laws that require heirs to pay taxes on their inheritance. The Republican Party sent the bill to Clinton Wednesday. Clinton promised to veto the measure.\nIn Washington, D.C., Republican Congressional leaders brought in ranchers, some of whom rode on tractors to increase public pressure on Clinton to sign the bill, which he has vowed to veto, and set the stage for a September veto override vote in the House. \n"I urge the President to end his opposition to taxpayers keeping their own money and call on him to sign the death warrant for this burdensome and unfair tax," Hostetler said in his press release. "Americans should not have to visit the IRS and the undertaker at the same time."\nDespite the rhetoric, only about 2 percent of all Americans who die each year are forced to pay estate taxes, mainly because of a $675,000 individual exemption that a married couple can double with simple planning steps. The exemptions are even higher for farmers and small businesses, but many are still forced to buy costly insurance policies and pay lawyers and accountants to protect hard-earned assets from a tax that reaches 55 percent. \nHostetler said statistics show one-third of small-business owners today will have to sell outright or liquidate a part of their firm to pay estate taxes. Half of those who must liquidate to pay the IRS will each have to eliminate 30 or more jobs.\nThe legislation, which passed the House and Senate earlier this summer with significant Democratic support, would gradually phase out the tax over 10 years at a cost of $10 billion. Clinton will have until just after Labor Day to sign or veto the bill, meaning GOP leaders could hold the House override vote the first week or two after Congress returns from its summer recess. \nMany African American and Hispanic Democrats ' among them Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, who gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention ' were among the most prominent supporters, arguing that the tax threatened to undercut minority businesses that often take several family generations to build. \nBut White House officials left no doubt that Clinton would veto the bill, saying it primarily benefits the wealthy and would consume $750 billion of projected surpluses during the 10 years after the tax is fully repealed. \nClinton spokesperson Jake Siewart told The Associated Press that Clinton will veto the bill because it can provide more meaningful estate tax relief to farmers and small businesses. \nDemocrats had offered less-costly alternatives backed by Clinton that would have reduced estate tax rates and increased exemptions for farmers and small businesses. Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore advocates a similar approach, while Republican candidate George W. Bush is calling for complete repeal. \nThe death tax applies to property, equipment, savings accounts and retirement accounts.\nThe Associated Press contributed to this story.

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