TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Tax History Project: Andrew Mellon's Unsuccessful Attempt to Repeal Estate Taxes

Thp_logo_1 The Tax History Project, a public service initiative of Tax Analysts, has posted seven new papers on its web site.  We have blogged one of these papers each day this week, concluding with today's paper:

Andrew Mellon's Unsuccessful Attempt to Repeal Estate Taxes, by M. Susan Murnane (Ph.D. Candidate (American History), Case Western Reserve University):

On June 7, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001, a $1.35 trillion tax cut spread out over 10 years. The act gradually reduced federal estate tax rates and increased the estate tax exemption until 2010, when it repealed the federal estate tax for one year only. The temporary repeal of the estate tax culminated a long campaign on the part of dedicated activists, who viewed it as a first step toward permanent repeal of the federal estate tax. The last time anyone seriously attempted to repeal the federal estate tax occurred toward the end of the series of tax cuts in the 1920s spearheaded by Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon. Between 1925 and 1928, Mellon attempted unsuccessfully to secure repeal of federal estate taxes. In proposing repeal, Mellon changed Treasury Department policy on estate taxes more than a year into the income tax reform program to reduce marginal taxes on high incomes, popularly known as the Mellon plan for scientific taxation. This article tells the story of the old fight over the federal estate tax, in the hope of illuminating the current one.

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