The House Ways and Means Committee aims to begin working soon on fixing the mess that is the estate tax.
The committees newly minted acting chairman, Sander Levin, D-Mich., said they would start trying to retroactively re-instate the tax, which expired at the end of last year, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
Heirs to multimillion-dollar estates now have to deal with complicated capital gains tax rules if they sell the assets, subjecting them to rates of between 15 to 28 percent. Congress may decide to give taxpayers a choice of paying either the estate tax or capital gains tax if they manage to pass legislation this time around.
Also on the agenda is dealing with the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of the year. In keeping with President Obamas campaign promise, Levin said the committee would preserve the tax cuts for individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples making less than $250,000 a year.
The committee has been busy since Levin took over the chairmanship from Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who is still being investigated for various ethical lapses. Levin presided over a vote Wednesday by the committee to pass a bill affording tax breaks to small businesses (see House Committee Passes Small Business Tax Cut Bill), and he was involved with passage by the full House of a temporary extension of unemployment benefits through May 5 and eligibility for the 65 percent COBRA health insurance subsidy for the unemployed through April 30.