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This paper is an edited transcript of the Lloyd Leva Plaine Distinguished Lecture, delivered at the University of Miami’s HeckerlingEstate Planning Institute on January 11, 2011. It reviews the history of the estate tax, discusses the politics of its bizarre repeal forthe year 2010 only, and outlines the forces that led to reinstatement of the tax for 2011 and 2012 with a $5 million exemption and35 percent top rate. The paper makes clear that the coalition pushing for repeal of the estate tax will continue to work to eliminate it and also explores potential broader implications of the repeal effort.

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