The American Institute of CPAs sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee prior to its March 12 hearing on estate tax reform urging lawmakers to make permanent changes to the estate tax prior to the current law expiring in 2010.In a letter, the institute reiterated a prioritized series of reforms -- a list that the AICPA had previously sent to Congress in 2005 and again in 2006.

The institute suggested the following:

* Make permanent the technical modifications to the generation-skipping transfer tax rules enacted in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

* Increase the applicable exclusion (exemption) amount in order to eliminate filing and tax burdens for 90 to 95 percent of estates. The institute also suggests indexing the exemption for inflation.

* Retain the full step-up in basis to fair market value for inherited assets and avoid the complexities of carryover basis.

* Create a uniform exemption amount for estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax purposes.

* Reinstate the full state estate tax credit, or provide another mechanism (such as a surtax) that would allow states to uniformly "piggyback" on the federal estate tax.

* Provide broad-based liquidity relief, rather than targeted relief provisions. Broad provisions that would apply to all illiquid estates would be both simpler and fairer to all taxpayers.

* Make the top estate tax rate no higher than the maximum individual income tax rate.

The AICPA Study on Reform of the Estate and Gift Tax System is available at: http://tax.aicpa.org/NR/rdonlyres/7C558E55-3E42-42D0-BD2C-9612E9E313E3/0/study0227FINAL.doc.

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