NPR logo Estate-Tax Fight In House Mostly Symbolic

Estate-Tax Fight In House Mostly Symbolic

The estate tax was at the heart of much of the dispute between House Democrats and Republicans on whether to accept President Obama's compromise with Republicans on extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

According to The Hill House liberals, knowing the momentum was against them in terms of stopping the deal entirely, hoped to make a last stand on at least trying to change the estate-tax provision of the agreement. They want to make it less generous to the rich.

But it's hard not to see this as anything other than political symbolism after reading a National Journal piece that explains that the estate tax is pretty much a dead letter, forgive the pun.

Under either the Democrats' or Republican approaches, you're not really talking about a tax that would effect very many families.

From the National Journal:

The fight is over whether it should apply to a minuscule slice of the nation’s richest families or an even more minuscule slice of the nation’s super-rich families. No matter what happens, the estate tax is set to be abolished for more than 99 percent of American families.