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Ending Estate Tax Will Hurt Charities

June 28, 2003

As "House Votes to Make Repeal of Estate Taxes Permanent" (June 19) implied, the current estate tax law is absurd, disappearing over 10 years and then magically reappearing. What wasn't made clear is that the absurdity of the law was deliberate, crafted by estate tax opponents intent on buying themselves 10 years to achieve permanent repeal of the law.

Earlier this month, a little-noted report from OMB Watch revealed that repeal of the estate tax will reduce annual bequests and charitable giving to the tune of approximately $10 billion. To put this in perspective, 12 new Ford Foundations would be required to replace that kind of charitable grant-making.

As a representative of the philanthropic sector, I'm at a loss to explain why conservative legislators hellbent on privatizing social welfare programs would also relentlessly work to reduce the revenue available to charitable organizations trying to pick up the pieces. Repeal of the estate tax is to fiscal conservatism what "Fear Factor" is to good taste.

Torie Osborn

Executive Director

Liberty Hill Foundation

Santa Monica

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