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    Bush Signs Tax Cut Into Law

    The tax breaks approved last month by Congress include a 10-year phase-out of the federal estate tax.

    In a White House victory celebration, President Bush put his signature to the nation's first across-the-board tax cut in 20 years and at the same time provided convenience store and petroleum retailers some much-needed relief by repealing the federal estate tax.

    The new law, which was heralded by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), will reduce the estate tax rate in 2002 to 50 percent, then 1 percent a year to 45 percent in 2007. In addition, the unified credit exemption is increased per individual from $675,000 to $1 million in 2002, increasing to $3.5 million in 2009.

    The tax package also reduces the top personal income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, doubles the $500 child tax credit, provides relief from the marriage penalty, and gives taxpayers a rebate of $300 for single taxpayers and $600 for joint filers, according to NACS.

    "NACS commends Congress for passing the President's tax relief package with strong bipartisan support," said Allison Shulman, NACS' manager of legislative affairs. "Small business owners, like those in the convenience store industry had a major victory when Congress passed the tax relief package which included estate tax repeal."

    Such broad tax relief has happened just twice since World War II -- President Kennedy's tax cuts in the 1960s and President Reagan's in the 1980s. Rebate checks, most between $300 and $600 will be mailed beginning July 20 to every American who paid taxes this year.

    In addition to the refund checks and gradual income tax cuts -- which include creation of a new 10 percent bottom rate - the measure eases the marriage penalty paid by millions of two-income couples, gradually doubles the $500 child credit and contains breaks for increased retirement savings and education.

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