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Estate Tax Alert

Call your Legislators on March 30


In coordination with the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition of which FCWPP is a participant,  we want legislators to hear from us in support of an estate tax on March 30.  Your call will add impact to a scheduled press event on March 29 featuring William Gates, Sr. and the release of a new report on the Estate Tax by the Economic Opportunity Institute.  The toll free number for legislators is 1-800-562-6000.  Addresses can be found at  Talking points on the estate tax are below:

Second, please send a letter to the editor


When you see a story about the estate tax, or about budget cuts because there’s not enough revenue, PLEASE send a letter to the editor using the points below, and send us a copy.  LTE’s are widely read, and influence the debate.  This issue will be decided in April, 2005.


Talking Points

  • The estate tax is NOT a death tax – only the wealthy pay it. United for a Fair Economy and the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition think estates of $1 million or more should pay the tax; the Governor wants to tax Washington estates leaving more than $2 million.  
  • The tax does not cause family farms and businesses to close.  Only about 2% of Washington estates paid the tax in 2002, or around 1,000 estates of the 44,000 people who died in the state that year. About 3% of the 1,000 had a majority of their estate made up of a small farm or business. 
  • More than half of the large estates that pay the majority of the tax (estates more than $5 million) are made up of appreciated assets (stocks and real estate) that have never paid capital gains taxes.  Upon death the capital gains on these assets is forgiven, a “death subsidy”.  The estate tax is a means to capturing some of this heretofore-untaxed income. 
  • Legislating an estate tax is not adding a new tax, but providing a technical fix to a tax that the state already had, which legislators have fought to protect in the past. 
  • The estate tax is the most progressive way available to raise revenue the state desperately needs to meet its commitments.  If we lose this tax, any other way we raise revenue will be more regressive, placing a higher burden on lower income families. We are facing a $1.6 billion shortfall this year and because of the structural problems with our state’s tax system, it will continue to get worse. 
  • The estate tax was begun in the 1920’s in order to prevent hereditary aristocracies, and was based on the belief that the wealthy benefit most from sound economic, judicial, educational, and transportation systems.  The estate tax is a fair payback for the infrastructure the wealthy use to build their wealth. 

Background Information

The Washington Supreme Court threw out the state estate tax last month on technical grounds, resulting in a loss of $270 million in the current budget cycle. Governor Gregoire has proposed reinstating the estate tax in her budget.  Her proposal calls for an exemption level of $2 million before the tax takes effect, and a complete exemption for family farms.

It will take a concerted outcry from citizens – that’s US – to provide the pressure and support for an estate tax to pass. 


To contact FCWPP Lobbyist Roger Kluck, email or call 206-856-4444. 


How to Contact Your Legislators:

During business hours, you can leave a message for all three of your legislators and the Governor at the toll free hotline (the operators can even tell you who your legislators are!) 1-800-562-6000


Use to identify your legislators. Contact information for your senators can then be found at  , and for representatives is at


Help us widen our circle. Share this web site with f/Friends and urge them to sign-up for legislative alerts by sending a blank message to "> from the email account they want our alerts sent to


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