Earlier this year, the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) joined 131 other organizations in signing a letter supporting Senator Thune (R-SD) and Congresswoman Noem’s (R-SD) Death Tax Repeal Act of 2017, S. 205 and H.R. 631. This important piece of legislation seeks to protect small businesses and hard-working Americans – especially seniors and their families – from the devastating impacts of the federal estate tax, known more commonly as the “death tax.”
Today, this issue is at the forefront of the national debate on tax reform. Our members have consistently opposed the death tax as an immoral double-tax on family owned business. For 100 years, it has forced family businesses and farms to sell valuable assets and liquidate generations of progress. As a result, the death tax is ultimately responsible for closing the doors of many family businesses, discouraging savings and investments, undermining job creation, while also thwarting economic growth and ingenuity.
We have fought to bring awareness to this issue and its impact on seniors. In the last Congress, more than 12,000 AMAC members called and emailed their Congressman to alert them to the detrimental effects of the death tax. We continue to push our elected now, and ask that they stand with us on HR 631. This tax has long increased costs on small business and threatened their longevity. Currently, 70 percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation, and 90 percent do not survive to the third generation. Repealing this tax is critical to keeping family businesses intact while also promoting intergenerational savings. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee found that the Death Tax has destroyed roughly $1.1 trillion in capital stock in the economy. As such, the death tax is consistently ranked as the least fair and most unpopular tax in America. Nearly 3⁄4 of Americans believe the death tax should be repealed.
Moreover, it is not an effective revenue generator. The death tax raises only minimal amounts for the federal government, while imposing significant costs on the American economy in terms of jobs lost and reduced growth rates. It has been devastating to family businesses and the communities in which they operate. In fact, ending the death tax would add $119 billion to GDP and boost workers’ income by $79 billion. According to the Tax Foundation, repeal of the death tax would also create nearly 160,000 jobs. This will lead to increased revenue for the federal government as well as greater prosperity for hard-working Americans long-term.
Most importantly, the death tax inflicts tremendous personal pain on families. At a time of great loss and grief, no one should be forced to make difficult choices regarding the future of the property or business they have just inherited. Requiring grieving families to pay a tax on their loved one’s life savings, which have been accrued from income already taxed when originally earned, depicts government overreach at its worst. Families should be given every opportunity to carry on their loved ones’ legacies by keeping the doors of their businesses open.
The AMAC firmly believes that death should not be a taxable event. Thankfully, Congressional leadership has taken steps to unburden American business owners and their families. We ask that they finish the job and protect family businesses and their futures. It is time to stand together and repeal the death tax.
Daniel C. Weber is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the AMAC.
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