18 Families Bankroll Estate Tax Repeal Campaign

The 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax (aka the Paris Hilton Tax) on heirs of the super wealthy has been financed and coordinated by just 18 families, according to a new report by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy.

The families include “the candy magnate Mars family, Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, Kochs of Koch Industries and Dorrance family of the Campbell’s Soup Co.” Together, they are worth a total of $185.5 billion. The estate tax repeal would “collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.”

Bending to the will of these families, House and Senate conservatives are proposing to permanently repeal the estate tax — or seek a “compromise” that is nearly as bad — even though such a move would cost over three quarters of a trillion dollars in the next decade. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has promised a vote on repeal in May.

Meanwhile, a new poll finds that 57 percent favor reforming or leaving alone the estate tax; only 23 percent back repealing it. And for good reason: Americans are about four times as likely to be hit by lightning than to have to pay estate taxes on small businesses or farms.