Most Americans Support Some Form of an Estate Tax, Poll Finds

A majority of Americans are against repeal of the estate tax, a new poll conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates for the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for America's Priorities finds.

A majority (57 percent) of respondents in the national poll said they prefer reforming or keeping the tax as is, while only 23 percent said they favor full repeal. The poll also found that the more voters learn about the tax, the more they oppose repeal; that voters place the tax at the bottom of the list of taxes that should be cut; that they think one of the two best ways to reduce the budget deficit is to keep the tax; and that they would much rather see Congress use taxpayer money for a variety of purposes other than repealing the tax. Approximately one-third of the 910 registered voters who responded to the telephone survey live in either Arkansas, Arizona, Maine, Montana, Ohio, or Oregon.

Currently, only individuals who leave estates greater than $2 million ($4 million for couples) must pay the tax. In 2006, it is estimated that 0.27 percent of all estates in the United States will be subject to the tax, while full repeal, should it be enacted, would cost an estimated $1 trillion in the first ten years.

"We are currently facing a large list of multi-billion-dollar obligations, including up to $1.3 trillion for the cost of the war in Iraq, $3.3 trillion in interest on the national debt, and $797 billion to pay for the Medicare drug benefit," said Steven C. Rockefeller, chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and a supporter of the Call to Preserve the Estate Tax, a project of Responsible Wealth spearheaded by William Gates Sr., co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "To reduce the nation's revenue stream by $1 trillion, which is the ten-year cost of repealing the estate tax, in order to enrich a small group of multi-millionaires and billionaires, is fiscally irresponsible and bad social policy. The estate tax could be reformed, but it should certainly be preserved and the revenue used to pay our national bills."

To view the results of the poll (7 pages, PDF), visit: http://www.coalition4americaspriorities.com/pdfs/polling-20060226.pdf.