The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Congress is contemplating a "prepaid" estate tax. It is unclear exactly how such a model would work, but one scenario would allow people to create “prepayment trusts” in which they'd put assets into the trust for five years and pay a 35% capital-gains tax on the gains of the assets. Then, when they die, the assets would presumably pass to heirs without any estate tax.
The benefit for the government is the creation of much-needed revenue now, but a big drop-off in collections later.
Could this work? Possibly, but not for everyone. People with liquid assets who can easily pay the taxes on their trusts would certainly benefit. But for the average small-business owner with little to no liquid assets, it would obviously be more difficult.
Of course, we'll be keeping an eye out for more developments on this.