By Tony Perkins
If this President gets his way, the meek won’t inherit the earth — the U.S. government will! That’s because our current tax code never says die, even when the person it’s taxing does. Thanks to the “death tax,” Americans have been mourning the loss, not just of their loved ones, but of the assets they spent their whole life building.
To cushion the blow, the new Republican majority is doing its best to give America some relief by introducing the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015.” Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) in the House (Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. has the companion bill), Congress would permanently roll back the estate tax that’s hurting so many middle class families and businesses.
Under the current system, the government takes a slice of the money, income, or property when it’s transferred from a deceased family member to the beneficiary. It’s especially outrageous when you consider that this is money that’s already been taxed when it’s earned! “This is a tax on success,” Rep. Brady exclaimed. And while the Left is fond of saying the death tax only affects the rich, the reality is that family farms, ranches, and small businesses are hit hardest. If a family doesn’t have the means to pay the death tax on a family farm or business, they’re sometimes forced to sell a portion — if not all — of their estate in order to comply.
In the words of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the entire concept is “morally wrong.” “That’s not supposed to be something people have to deal with when they’re grieving for the loss of a loved one.” And in most cases, this isn’t pocket change. The IRS’s rates can be as high as 40 percent! “I guess when it comes to helping the wealthiest people in the country, it’s never enough,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Tuesday. “While that may be a convenient soundbite, it isn’t a truthful one. Forbes explains that the “truly rich” don’t even pay the death tax. Instead, they hire a team of top attorneys and estate planners to shelter them from the pain that smaller businesses feel.
Not to mention, the Tax Foundation points out, that the death tax is a job-killer. Repealing it, they calculate, “would create 139,000 jobs… and increase wages by .7 percent.” In the broader picture, the death tax only brings in about 1.5 percent of federal revenue. So if liberals are banking on the death tax to bring in big bucks, they’re mistaken. As far as Republicans are concerned, that money would be better served flowing directly into the economy — especially since this administration would only use it to feed its radical social agenda.
If liberals still aren’t convinced, Brian Seasholes at Reason argues that the death tax is even bad for the environment! “…Heirs — land-rich but cash-poor and in need of money to pay the death tax — sell off parcels of land in order to satisfy Uncle Sam. This leads to development of land which would have never been developed except for the death tax.”
This Thursday, the House has a chance to put a nail in the death tax’s coffin. Contact your Congressman and urge him to support H.R. 1105. Will Rogers once said, “The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” Well, death may not get worse, but it certainly gets more expensive. And it’s time for our leaders to do something about it.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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