New International Survey Shows U.S. Death Tax Rates Among Highest

Since its addition to the U.S. tax code in 1916, the estate tax (often called the “death tax”) has been a major topic of debate among policymakers and tax policy scholars. The estate tax, a tax on the transfer of property at death, has undergone a number of changes over the years. Most recently the estate tax was modified by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA). EGTRRA reduced the estate tax rate gradually to 45 percent in 2007-2009 and repeals it in 2010. In 2011, the estate tax will revert to its pre-EGTRRA form, with rates ranging from 41 percent to 60 percent.

The likely negative effects of these high tax rates have led many academic scholars and tax policy experts to call for permanent repeal of or a permanent reduction in the estate tax. This report provides an international comparison of the top marginal death tax rates in 50 industrialized and developing countries and an analysis of the economic impact of the estate tax.

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