After a vigorous lobbying and grassroots effort from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Alexandria, Va., and other organizations, the Senate recently passed the Death Tax Elimination Act of 2000 (H.R. 8) by a 59 to 39 margin. AGC's number one legislative priority, H.R. 8, gradually eliminates the estate tax for the next 10 years. The House of Representatives passed the same legislation last month by a veto proof margin - setting up a possible showdown between Congress and the White House Administration, which has vowed to veto the bill.

"Congress has listened and spoken loud and clear. This is a major victory for all family-owned construction company members of AGC," says AGC Executive Vice President & CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. "We will now find out if the Administration is listening when it comes to Death Tax relief for family-owned construction companies, farmers, and all small businesses."

According to an AGC/Deloitte and Touche survey, 94% of AGC member businesses are closely held, and 81% are owned by fewer than four persons. In the capital-intensive construction industry, even the smallest contractor has lifetime capital assets, property, and real estate over the current estate tax exemption amount of $675,000. The burden of the federal estate tax falls on AGC's smallest family-owned construction firms.