WASHINGTON - The House on Friday approved by a vote of 279 to 136 legislation that would eliminate the federal estate tax within a decade. Under the bill, the current top tax rate of 55% on inheritances would be lowered to 50% in 2002 and gradually scaled back until it disappears in 2010. Republicans estimate that it would provide $28 billion in tax relief within the first five years.

Banking industry officials praised the legislation.

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