ESTATE TAX CHARTOLOGY…. I do love me some charts. Like a zombie that refuses to die, the Senate is getting ready to repeal the estate tax yet again, having abandoned last year’s attempt because even to Republicans it seemed kind of crass in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This chart, from the fine folks at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, shows how low the actual estate tax rates would be under a more modest reform that exempted estates under $3.5 million and capped the top rate at 45%. The Paris Hiltons of the world would still end up paying no more on their inheritances than most middle-class workers pay on their ordinary income. Seems fair to me.

Needless to say, this is still unacceptable to the barons of the Republican Party, who want to repeal the tax altogether and are being amply rewarded for their fealty to the wealthiest families in America. Other fun facts:

  • Under the $3.5 million/45% plan, we would retain 60% of the revenue that we get from the current estate tax. This would pay for about half of the projected Social Security shortfall.

  • 99.7% of all estates would pay no tax at all.

  • Only 50 (that’s “fifty,” not “fifty thousand”) farms and small business would owe any estate tax.

  • Conversely, repealing the estate tax entirely would cost nearly $1 trillion over ten years. That’s “trillion,” not “billion.”

More charts here. “Myths and Realities” here. An estate tax blog here. The Coalition for America’s Priorities has more information here, including fun state-by-state data.