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Schiff foe targets estate tax

August 26, 2010|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

Pasadena businessman John Colbert, the Republican challenging Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) in November, has signed the "Death Tax Repeal Pledge," promising he would vote for permanent repeal of the federal estate tax. The pledge is the brainchild of the American Family Business Institute, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy bill looking to permanently bury the tax.

The tax requires family members inheriting property, including business assets, worth $3.5 million or more to pay up to 55% of the net value of estate in taxes when the owner dies and passes it on to heirs. The tax was suspended for 2010 after Congress failed to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats on reauthorizing or modifying it.

Republicans say the tax hurts farmers and small businesses by draining the assets they would use to plow back into their enterprises. Democrats say the tax is fair and affects only the wealthiest of families, although they have also signaled a willingness to scale it back.

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An American Family Business Institute study predicts that repeal of the so-called death tax would boost employment in California by 180,000 jobs and in the nation by 1.5 million jobs.

"The estate tax deals with more than just land. It deals with money and everything else of value, really," Colbert said. "We need that money to stay in private industry so it goes toward growing the private sector, not the government."

Through a spokeswoman, Schiff said he does not support a repeal, though he does want the tax burden reduced.

"I support a substantial reform of the estate tax, which raises the ceiling on the value of estates that are fully protected from any tax, and lowers the tax rate on any remaining portion of an estate," he said in a statement, pointing to his vote last year to exempt estates of up to $7 million from any estate tax. "Given the substantial deficit and national debt, we cannot afford to eliminate the estate tax on all estates — a view shared by even the most wealthy Americans, like Warren Buffett."

Huff bill aims to correct abuse of power

Sen. Bob Huff (R- Diamond Bar), whose district includes La Crescenta, is seeking to pare down the list of those who can maintain their privacy when pulled over by a police officer.

Under state law, police officers and designated members of their family can have their names and other information blocked from public databases for security reasons. Huff's measure would correct what he believes to be an abuse of the privilege.

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