Estimated tax time again: June 15
Chevy, Chevy, Chevy, Chevy!

Texas billionaire vs. the estate tax

The New York Times takes a look at what the death of Texas pipeline billionaire Dan L. Duncan in the absence of an estate tax might mean for that estate and the U.S. Treasury.

The upshot of the newspaper's piece is the same as what I blogged on May 3 about the convergence of the wealthy Texan's passing and no estate tax law: The bonanza in tax savings for Duncan's descendants is sure to be unsettling to those who have paid estate taxes on more modest wealth.

Gravestoned in cemetery
Fairness aside, and no one has every said life, much less the U.S. tax code is fair, with each passing day, Congress digs itself, and affected or potentially affected estates, into a deeper tax hole.

Because of that, along with the impending midterm elections and expiration at the end of this year of Dubya's wide-ranging tax cuts, I stand by my prediction (yeah, I know, crazy talk!) that Congress will try to please everyone.

That is, Washington will give estates a choice for 2010. Estates could pay using 2009's rules or take advantage of the one-year repeal of the estate tax.

No estate tax will benefit some big estates, presumably Duncan's and similarly situated ones.

Other heirs, however, would prefer to have 2009's smaller estate tax exemption, but also get the stepped-up basis allowed under last year's law.

There's no official proposal yet, but this something-for-everyone approach is getting some buzz on Capitol Hill.

And so we wait, yet again.

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