WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House voted Wednesday to permanently end taxes on inherited estates, rejecting a Democratic effort to retain the tax for the country's wealthiest families.

``What we're talking about here is fairness to families,'' said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. ``They ought to have the comfort and relief to pass that business on to the next generation, to their children and to their grandchildren.''

The bill, passed 264-163, would permanently abolish taxes on estates and reduce revenue $162 billion through 2013. A law passed in 2001 eliminates the tax in 2010, only to resurrect it a year later, a quirk forced by Senate rules designed to prevent lawmakers from deepening budget deficits.

A nearly identical bill that passed last year died in the Senate, and this year's bill will probably meet the same fate.