December 1, 2001
The 2001 tax act phases out the estate tax over nine years, before reinstating it in year 10. That untenable plan guarantees that the estate tax will be revisited soon. This policy brief summarizes the economic effects of the estate tax and the proposed changes. The estate tax makes the tax system more progressive, encourages charitable contributions, and reduces wealth concentration. Although it is needlessly complex and ridden with loopholes, critics have grossly exaggerated its negative effects on farms and small businesses. The next reform of the estate tax should be designed to mitigate its shortcomings while retaining its advantages.