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— The U.S. House voted Thursday to repeal the 99-year- old U.S. estate tax amid a partisan clash over whether the government should break up concentrated wealth or make it easier to pass along assets to the next generation.

The House passed the bill 240-179 Thursday. The tally was mostly along party lines; seven Democrats voted for passage and three Republicans voted no.

The measure would make it possible for the wealthiest Americans to do what the other 99.8 percent already can do — pass their assets to their children without a federal estate tax. The measure would save taxpayers — and cost the U.S. government — $269 billion over a decade.

“It is, at its heart, an immoral tax,” said Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican.

In Michigan, about 100 estates would face the estate tax in 2016, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Nationally, roughly 2 in 1,000 people who die owe estate tax.

President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill, noting that the Republican budget plan adopted by the House in March relies on revenue from the estate tax.

Democrats say repealing the tax is a giveaway to the rich, since the only families that pay it have many millions in assets. The bill now goes to the Senate where Democrats appear to have enough votes to block it.

“It penalizes those who have worked all their lives and reinvested in their family businesses,” said Rep. Adrian M. Smith, a Nebraska Republican.

Detroit News Staff Writer

Melissa Burke contributed.

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