A move is underway in Congress to stave off the sunset of the estate tax in 2010 and prevent a wholesale revision of the transfer tax rules in 2011. On October 22, a bipartisan group of House Ways and Means Members (Shelly Berkley (D-NV), Kevin Brady (R-NV), Devin Nunes (R-CA), and Artur Davis (D-AL)), introduced H.R. 3905, the “Estate Tax Relief Act of 2009. ” This measure would repeal both the 2010 one-year termination of the estate tax and the new basis rules, increase the estate and gift tax unified credit beginning in 2010, and coordinate a reduction in the maximum rate of tax (from 45% to 35% over a period of years) with a phaseout of the deduction for State death taxes.

Separately, on October 22, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said that he was in the process of drafting language that would make the estate tax permanent. Rangel said that because of the focus on the health reform bill, it was unclear when the bill would come to the House floor. He did say, however, that he didn’t expect to unveil his estate tax proposal until after next week’s Democratic caucus meeting, at which time he would discuss his proposal with members.

We will keep you posted on further developments.