The president's panel studying tax overhaul options isn't expected to recommend major changes to the estate tax, according to published reports.

In remarks to reporters, Jeffrey Kupfer, executive director of the Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, said, "I don't see us getting into the estate tax issue at all," Dow Jones reported. The comment came after Kupfer's update on the panel's deliberations at an American Bar Association tax section conference late last week.

The nine-member panel, appointed by President Bush in January, is supposed to produce its recommendations for overhauling the tax code by July 31.

According to the Dow Jones report, Kupfer said that the panel is working on the assumption that Bush's budget proposals -- which assume permanent repeal of estate taxes and making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent -- will be enacted.

"Under the idea that we're following the president's baseline, which is repeal, there is no reason to jump into [the estate tax issue]," Kupfer reportedly said. However, he added that he didn't want to rule out that the panel's final report might make some reference to estate taxes, Dow Jones said.

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