WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill urged Congress Wednesday to eliminate the estate tax despite new estimates of repeal's cost.

"The President made a compelling case for eliminating the unfair death tax," Mr. O'Neill said in a statement. "Government has no business confiscating the legacy parents work their entire lives to build for their children."

A House Ways and Means Committee vote on the estate tax is expected today, but the bill's prospects were uncertain after the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated Tuesday that the cost of immediately repealing the tax would total $662 billion over 10 years.

Paul G. Merski, chief economist and director of tax policy at the Independent Community Bankers of America, agreed with the estimate. "An immediate repeal would be very costly over and above the $1.6 trillion that President Bush has earmarked for tax relief in this first session," Mr. Merski said.

In both the House and Senate the intention will be to scale back estate tax relief to about $200 billion, Mr. Merski said.

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