Congress is facing a tax deadline. Under legislation passed in 2001, the federal estate tax is being phased out: The tax rate is falling and the value of the property of the deceased that is exempted from the tax is rising. Though scheduled to disappear in 2010, the tax will nonetheless return in 2011 at pre-2001 rates—up to 55 percent for estates valued in excess of $1 million. The Senate voted in April 2009 to reduce the rate of the revivified tax to 35 percent, but the House of Representatives has not acted.
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