Congress Should Kill the Death Tax Once and for All

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Thursday, January 31st, 2019, 11:02 AM PERMALINK

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) has joined 28 Senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in reintroducing legislation that permanently repeals the death tax. S. 215, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019,” would finally end the tax that hits small businesses and family-run farms all across the country.

The death tax is a 40 percent tax on all assets after an individual dies. The assets in an estate were previously subject to income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, or the corporate income tax. All the dollars have already been taxed at least once. Homes, land, small business assets, stocks, savings.

This is bad policy for a number of reasons, chief among them that it is unfair double taxation. If an individual spends his entire life earning income and paying taxes, why is it fair for the government to come in and tax that income again once he dies?

The death tax also targets small businesses and family farms at the exclusion of the mega-wealthy. While the mega-wealthy and family farms technically face the same death tax, small business owners cannot afford to hire a small army of lawyers and accountants to exempt large portions of their estates from the tax. As always, complex laws are rife with loopholes that the rich can exploit at the expense of the less fortunate.

Finally, death tax repeal would spur economic growth. A Tax Foundation study shows that death tax repeal would boost GDP growth, create 139,000 jobs, and increase federal revenue. That is not a typo - repealing the death tax would actually increase the money the government collects from the taxpayers on an annual basis.

Public polling consistently shows that large majorities of the American people favor death tax repeal. It is time for politicians on both sides of the aisle to follow the will of the people and get it done.

Senator Thune and S. 215’s cosponsors should be commended for their efforts to repeal the crushing death tax once and for all. All members of Congress should support the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019,” and President Trump should sign it into law.

Photo Credit: Becci Sheptock

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