The House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved Friday a reduction in Maryland's estate tax, after a debate over whether it's a windfall for millionaires or a boon for middle-class families.
By a vote of 120 to 13, delegates passed a bill cosponsored by members of both parties that would gradually increase the amount of a deceased person's estate deemed exempt from taxation. The amount shielded from tax would grow from $1 million this year to $4 million by 2018.
Del. Heather Mizeur, a Montgomery County Democrat, spoke out against the measure, calling it a five-year, $432 million "giveaway" to wealthy families that she argued would exacerbate income inequality in the state.
But Del. Herb McMillan, an Anne Arundel County Republican, countered that the estate tax break would help far more than the wealthy. "Sad to say in Maryland you have to die to get a tax break now," McMillan said, drawing laughter. The Senate has yet to act on its version of the legislation.