Bunning, in comments during a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, said because Steinbrenner "was smart enough to die in 2010, there is zero tax liability to the estate tax," the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal reported.
The committee was debating tax cuts for wealthy Americans instituted by the administration of former President George W. Bush, which are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Under those cuts, the estate tax was eliminated for this year only, the newspaper said.
"George Steinbrenner died Tuesday. 2010. If he had died in 2009, or 2011, there would have been a $500 million tax liability to his estate in 2009, and in 2011 -- under the proposal that we have -- there would have been a $600 million (liability)," said Bunning, a Hall of Fame former baseball pitcher, who is not running for re-election this year.
The Courier-Journal said the Democratic National Committee and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., declined comment on Bunning's remarks about Steinbrenner.