WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., introduced legislation last week that would help banks keep valuable small-business customers by curbing estate taxes.

The Independent Bankers Association of America joined 60 other business and industry groups in supporting the bill that would exclude up to $1.5 million of a family business's net worth from inheritance taxes. It also would cut the maximum tax on the remainder of the estate to 27.5% from 55%.

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