The House of Representatives voted to give a tax break to the richest 0.2 percent of Americans by eliminating a federal estate tax worth $269 billion over the next 10 years, although the legislation is indefinite.
The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015 was predominantly supported by house Republicans.
Although the tax only impacts about 5,500 estates nationwide, the financial loss to the government will be added to the federal debt. The legislation only affects estates worth more than $10.9 million for couples and $5.4 million for individuals, meaning it has no significance for the other 99.8 percent of Americans.
In addition to contributing to the federal debt, the bill would result in an average $20 million gain for each of the 318 wealthiest estates every year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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Only seven Democrats voted for the bill, and it passed 239 to 179.
"Today's vote to repeal the estate tax is just the Republican's last attempt to tilt the U.S. tax code in favor of their ultra wealthy campaign donors," Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington told The Huffington Post.
Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon agreed. "Today my Republican friends have discovered there’s $270 billion of revenue that somehow the federal government no longer needs," he said. “They have decided to give an additional tax cut to people who need the help the least.”
Republicans argued the tax prevents families from passing down their businesses to the next generation, although three members of the party voted against the measure. “It is, at its heart, an immoral tax,” said Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas.
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Republican Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota agreed, while blaming income inequality on President Obama. "One in five children are on food stamps because of the policies of this administration," she said. "Fifty percent of our college students can’t find work or are underemployed because of the policies of this administration. We talk about income inequality, and we are seeing it because of those previous policies. This tax is a very unfair tax."
The bill would also end capital gains taxes for those subject to the estate tax, allowing investments to be passed down without any taxes on their growth.
Senate Democrats have enough votes to block the measure, and The White House has also threatened to veto the bill.