The Maine Senate voted May 24 to increase the state tax exemption on estates by five fold.

All three local state senators supported the measure, LD 1147, that gained Senate approval 21-14.

Under current state law, estates worth up to $1 million are not taxed when they are transferred to someone through inheritance. LD 1147 would increase that exemption to the first $5 million of an estate.

For estates worth $5 million to $8 million, a 10 percent tax would be imposed. That tax would increase to 12 percent for estates worth more than $8 million.

The Legislature’s Taxation Committee had recommended approval of the bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Richard Woodbury, an un-enrolled legislator from Yarmouth.

The House has yet to vote on the measure.

Rep. Edward Mazurek, D-Rockland, said he will oppose the bill.

“This is another proposal that benefits only the wealthy,” Mazurek said.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy said it was another huge tax cut that will benefit only 550 to 600 estates annually paid for by cuts to services for seniors, the disabled, and low and middle income families.

“[The bill] is economically unfair and morally indefensible,” Maine Center for Economic Policy Executive Director Christopher St. John said. “This boon for the wealthy will cost more than $100 million over three years at a time when the state already faces an $800 million budget shortfall. Maine families, still reeling from the Great Recession, need jobs, property tax relief and help paying for health care and other basic needs.”

Messages were left with the Midcoast’s three Republican state senators — Sens. Christopher Rector of Thomaston, A. David Trahan of Waldoboro, and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport.

Rector said legislators have been repeatedly told from everyone in the financial community that wealthier citizens are moving their residences out of the state because of Maine’s high estate tax. He said this loss means that the state loses those people’s income taxes as well and that their money is not invested in Maine banks, which then do not have those funds to loan out to their communities.