By: Joe Strupp
Clinton vetoes gop tax package
Leaders of the campaign to eliminate the so-called “death tax” ? which has hit family-owned businesses, including newspapers, with heavy federal tax burdens for decades package that included a death-tax repeal.
“This is an issue that will heat up again next year, and we have a lot of momentum,” said Paul Boyle, vice president of government affairs for the Newspaper Association of America (naa). “We feel good that this was the first time ever that Congress approved a bill that calls for phaseout of the death tax.”
Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., who co-sponsored the death-tax portion of the bill, also offered hope for a future repeal. “We must eliminate this unfair tax,” she said.
Among the provisions of the $792-billion, Republican-backed, tax-cut package that Clinton vetoed was one that would have eliminated the death tax over the next 10 years. Clinton had told Congress that he wanted any tax cut to be under $300 billion. “This bill is too big, too bloated, and places too big a burden on America’s economy,” he said.
The entire tax-cut package ? which included a 1% income-tax cut capital-gains and marriage tax reductions ? was approved by a 221-206 vote in the House of Representatives and a 50-49 vote in the Senate, but failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
The proposed death-tax repeal, jointly sponsored by Dunn and Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., would have reduced the tax incrementally beginning in 2001 until its repeal by 2009.
Death taxes are levied on inheritances of $650,000 or more at rates between 18% and 55%. The tax raises about $23 billion annually.
The death tax, which began in 1916 to raise money for World War I needs, has been a longtime thorn in the side of family newspaper owners. Several, led by The Seattle Times’ Frank Blethen, have spent years lobbying for the repeal.
Blethen, the naa, and other business groups seeking a repeal stepped up their efforts in recent months with increased lobbying in Washington and a newspaper ad campaign in three Capitol Hill publications that sought to educate Congress on the need for repeal.
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