Maine Senate Votes Huge Estate Tax Giveaway to the Wealthy Funded by Cuts that Will Hurt Low and Middle Income Maine Families

Augusta, Maine (Wednesday, May 25, 2011)—The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) today urges the Maine House to reject legislation passed yesterday in the Maine Senate to increase the estate tax exemption from $1 million to $5 million. 

“Another huge tax cut that will benefit only 550-600 estates annually paid for by cuts to services for seniors, the disabled and low and middle income families is economically unfair and morally indefensible,” MECEP Executive Director Christopher St. John said.  “This boon for the wealthy will cost more than $100 million over three years at a time when the state already faces an $800 million budget shortfall.  Maine families, still reeling from the Great Recession, need jobs, property tax relief and help paying for health care and other basic needs.”

Maine Revenue Services estimate that raising the estate tax exemption to $5 million would cost $29 million in FY2013, $36 million in FY2014 and $38 million in FY2015.  To pay for these and other tax cuts that will primarily benefit the wealthy, the Legislature is currently considering budget cuts that would slash prescription drug benefits for 40,000 Maine seniors and people with disabilities, eliminate health care for 14,000 working parents, impose greater burdens on retired teachers and other public employees and reduce property tax relief to an estimated 75,000 Maine households.