A business group has gathered the support of more than 700 economists for repealing the estate tax, a goal of Republicans aiming to overhaul the tax code this year.
Among those signing the letter approving of ending the tax are three Nobel Prize winners and several other prestigious academics.
The Family Business Coalition, an advocacy group for businesses, said Thursday that the economists had endorsed a reissued letter written by late Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman laying out the case for repealing the tax. Friedman, a conservative icon, criticized the estate tax on the grounds that it "taxes virtue" by penalizing people who have saved throughout their lives.
The Trump administration and House Republicans have offered plans that include repealing the estate tax, which levies a top rate of 40 percent on bequests. The tax applies only to large estates, those that amount to more than roughly $11 million for a couple.
Estate tax repeal is one of the elements of President Trump's tax plan that has led Democrats to criticize it as a tax cut for the wealthy. Nevertheless, repealing the estate tax generally polls well.
The Nobel Prize winners to sign the letter are Edward Prescott, Vernon Smith and Oliver Williamson. Greg Mankiw, a former adviser to George W. Bush, also signed the letter, as did University of Chicago professor Eugene Fama.