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In 1918 Congress added to the then simple but rapidly proliferating
estate tax law a deduction for property previously taxed, the prototype
of today's section 812(c).1 In recommending the new provision, the
House Committee on Ways and Means said:

It has come to the attention of the committee that persons closely related have died within such a short space of time that the same estate passing within a short period of time has been subjected to the estate tax, and thereby diminished unreasonably because of the short period within which the two levies have been made. For example, a husband dies leaving a large amount of property to his wife, an elderly woman, who dies within a few weeks after her husband's death. Under existing law the entire estate is taxed on the transfer from husband to wife and on the transfer from wife to other beneficiaries.

To alter this result the Committee recommended and Congress adopted
a provision allowing the executor to deduct from the decedent's gross
estate any part thereof that was received by the decedent, directly or by
exchange, from the taxable estate of any other person who had died within
the previous five years. The provision was simple and straightforward

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