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The Politics and Policy of the Estate Tax - Past, Present, and Future

16 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2011 Last revised: 17 Mar 2011

Michael J. Graetz

Columbia Law School; Yale Law School

Date Written: January 11, 2011


This paper is an edited transcript of the Lloyd Leva Plaine Distinguished Lecture, delivered at the University of Miami’s Heckerling Estate Planning Institute on January 11, 2011. It reviews the history of the estate tax, discusses the politics of its bizarre repeal for the year 2010 only, and outlines the forces that led to reinstatement of the tax for 2011 and 2012 with a $5 million exemption and 35 percent top rate. The paper makes clear that the coalition pushing for repeal of the estate tax will continue to work to eliminate it and also explores potential broader implications of the repeal effort.

Keywords: Estate Planning, Estate Tax

Suggested Citation

Graetz, Michael J., The Politics and Policy of the Estate Tax - Past, Present, and Future (January 11, 2011). Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 425. Available at SSRN: or

Michael J. Graetz (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States


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