New legislation to repeal the federal "death tax" is being hailed by some gay rights activist as an important step toward equality. Under current law, married couples are allowed a "marital deduction" that shields assets from taxation when one spouse dies. But because they can't get married, gay couples are denied the same benefit. As a result, they are subject to twice the death tax.
Republican senator John Kyl of Arizona has joined Democratic senator Bill Nelson of Florida in introducing a bill to permanently repeal the death tax. The gay political group Log Cabin Republicans celebrated the move. "Log Cabin applauds the introduction of legislation to permanently kill the death tax," said Log Cabin political director Chris Barron. "A majority of Americans support permanent repeal of the economically unsound death tax, which unfairly penalizes gay and lesbian families."
Log Cabin unveiled its 2005 legislative agenda in January and specifically highlighted permanent repeal of the death tax as a priority for the 109th Congress. The federal tax on inheritances, which is being gradually phased out under President Bush's temporary tax cuts of 2001, will revert to its previous rate of up to 60% in 2011 without congressional action. The House introduced a similar permanent repeal bill in early January. According to a Gallup poll, 60% of Americans support repeal of this discriminatory tax. "Log Cabin looks forward to working with our Republican allies on the Hill to pass this and other critical pieces of reform legislation," Barron said.