Death Taxes

June 27, 2003

June 27, 2003

It's time we made the elimination of the death tax permanent. We shouldn't have to die in year 2010 to avoid the tax. The tax is unfair and, by a nine to one margin, American voters agree. One third of small businesses today will have to sell outright or liquidate a part of their business to pay the tax. Seventy percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation. Eighty-seven percent do not survive the third generation.

If there is such grave concern about the concentration of big business, then why are some members of Congress so dead set on killing small businesses with taxes? Those members will march out Warren Buffett and the father of Bill Gates arguing to preserve the tax. No big deal. Well, it's no big deal if you have 20 billion dollars! After you give the government half, you still have 10 billion. You're not going to need food stamps. But if you are a small business operator and the government demands halfjust because you had the misfortune to die, then it's a big deal.

Imagine this guy just arrived in the Promised Land. He's sitting on a cloud watching the greedy federal government take the business that he spent a lifetime building. He's calling out to Uncle Sam, "Hey, Uncle Sam, I didn't plan to die, at least not yet. My farm was doing okay. I just didn't have a million dollars set aside to pay you. I'm sorry I didn't spend a lot of money to put together a complicated estate plan. Uncle Sam, you don't understand. I already paid taxes on that money when I earned it. You see, everything I have is tied up in land, buildings, livestock and machinery. If I sell that to pay you, my son won't be able to farm."

Unfortunately in too many cases, that' s the way it is. The Death Tax bill is on the House floor this week. If the Congress will pass it, the President will sign it.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.