WASHINGTON — (Newsblaze) With land values in places such as South Dakota up more than 50 percent, and the prospect of 2,400 family farms and 2,700 small businesses being hit by one more tax at the end of life, lawmakers gathered Wednesday afternoon in the Capitol Visitor Center to talk about the prospects for the repeal of the death tax.
The event included members of both parties. The Senate Republican Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, in very brief remarks at the gathering, noted “it is the government’s final outrage.”
Wednesday’s event coincided with a back page “A” section advertisement by the 60-plus coalition running in that day’s Washington Times. In the last effort, according to the 60-plus coalition, the House voted to repeal the tax in 2005, 272-162 with 70% of voters favoring repeal, according to their statistics.
The death tax or inheritance tax, according to members of congress gathered at Wednesday’s repeal kick off, has been slated to bring in only $20 billion worth of revenue, which is equivalent to only one half of one percent of federal spending, and that only runs the federal government for two or three days.
“We don’t believe death ought to be a taxable event,” remarked Senator John Thune (R-SD), stating a common message from repeal advocates. Thune believed this year’s effort would generate bipartisan support. He was joined by a fellow South Dakotan Rep. Kristi Noem in his appeal.
Noem gave the most human face about the effects of the death tax by noting her own family business she inherited from her father became the impetus for her run for congress. “I was shocked when I got a bill from the federal government,” after her father’s death. “I was raised with the idea that you don’t sell land.” The effort to save her land forced her to take out a loan that took ten years to pay off.
Stories like Noem’s do creep up in statistics, according to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX). “Every study shows we have taken more out of the economy than tax has generated.”
That kind of inefficiency in government revenue collection has also captured attention from across the political aisle “It’s the wrong tax at the wrong time hurting the wrong people” remarked Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC). He noted 99% of businesses in his Eastern North Carolina District were small businesses that could be impacted by the government’s end of life tax collection. He also said many man hours were wasted in compliance with this tax.
Supporters noted during questions that they did not have an offset in the bill and they were looking to offset the revenue. Thune remarked it would be a difficult issue for Senate Democrats, saying “We don’t have a single Democrat co sponsor yet.” Although he was optimistic about his chances of garnering support from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, to move it through the Democratically controlled Senate.
As optimistic as Thune was about the chances of moving the issue through congress this year, some were not. Another repeal advocate, Steve Foglesong, owner of the Illinois-based Black Gold Ranch, noted cattle ranchers such as himself were keen to get this done, because “this has been on top of our docket for the longest time.” Foglesong viewed this as the “death knell” to his ability to be a first generation rancher and pass on the family farm.
In related news, Senator Thune responded to question posed by Newsblaze about efforts to link efforts to repeal the death tax with a repeal of the alternative minimum tax. Thune replied by saying there were lots of taxes that his colleagues wanted to tackle for repeal, and that a repeal of the AMT “would be the next good thing.”