Seeking to “start the conversation”, Senator Kyl proposed cutting the estate tax rate in half, from 40 percent to that of capital gains.

It’s a return to a favorite subject for Kyl, who tried repeatedly in his initial 18 years in the Senate to reduce the tax, derisively known as the “death tax” among its largely conservative detractors.

“It seemed to me it was important to start the debate, so people can research and talk about it,” Kyl said in an interview Friday. “Even if I’m not there for a long time in the Senate, others can pick that up and go with it in the next session. … This is just an effort to get started on an effort next year to actually get it passed.”

Kyl defended the proposed tax cut on the grounds of tax simplification and as a way to avoid hurting family-owned businesses.

“The Estate Tax Rate Reduction Act would lower the estate tax rate to 20 percent, equal to the capital gains tax, making the tax code simpler and easing the tax burden on families who have lost loved ones,” Kyl said in a statement on his bill. “I have long-championed efforts to eliminate and lower the impact of the estate tax in order to help protect families, small business owners and farmers who are too often forced to make difficult decisions, such as selling the family business or terminating employees, due to the current 40 percent estate tax rate.”

Kyl said he has seen interest in the past from Democrats on estate-tax reforms, offering at least some chance for the rate cut he seeks.