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MEASURE WOULD PROTECT FIRMS AFTER OWNER'S DEATH

Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Bob Dole, R-Kan., have introduced a bill they say will help save small businesses after the death of the owner.

"All too often under current law, the families of owners of small- to medium-size family businesses find themselves having to sell the business after the death of an owner in order to pay the estate tax," Hatch said."This should not happen. It is far too tough to start and build a small business just to watch it go down the drain in order to pay the estate tax when the founder dies," he said.

The new bill would grant larger tax breaks to help avoid that. It exempts up to $1.5 million in family building assets from estate tax, and the value above that would be taxed at one-half the current rate, which tops out at 55 percent.