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Press Release

Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Pledges Major Push for Rep. Cox's Death Tax Repeal Plan
Swift Senate Follow-Through Is Key to "Down Payment on Tax Reform"

For Immediate Release January 5, 2005

(Alexandria, VA) -- Why should Congress wait for a commission before getting to work on simplifying the nation's twisted tax laws? That's a question the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) asked lawmakers today as the citizen group unveiled its campaign on behalf of new legislation being offered by Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) to do away with the controversial federal "death tax."

"Congressman Cox deserves praise for putting the unfinished job of death tax repeal at the top of this Congress's to-do list," said NTU Director of Government Affairs Paul Gessing. "Whether standing by itself or serving as a down payment on systemic tax reform, this legislation makes sense in any political or economic environment."

In an open letter of support to Rep. Cox, Gessing cited a recent Congressional study that found ending the death tax could boost personal income, in turn leading to increases in revenues from other types of federal taxes. He also contended that charitable giving, often raised as a concern among those opposing death tax repeal, would actually be likelier to thrive in this more hospitable economic climate. But Gessing was quick to point out that NTU has long supported termination of the death tax for economic as well as moral grounds -- namely, that the tax discourages the virtues of "living frugally and accumulating wealth."

During previous Congresses, NTU's work to phase out the death tax included a letter of support for such a plan from over 300 prominent economists, including Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman. Elements under consideration for NTU's death tax repeal campaign in the 109th Congress include alerts to the group's 90,000+ e-mail subscribers, talk radio tours, coalition-building with state- and community-level citizen groups, and grassroots lobbying of undecided lawmakers.

Gessing noted that although the House has voted to end the death tax on several occasions over the past several years, "earlier repeal efforts have been mired in the mud of the Senate floor. But thanks to the November elections, when voters rejected the class-warfare claptrap from defenders of the death tax, Congressman Cox's proposal will be on firmer ground in the Senate this year."

"After plaguing taxpayers for more than 80 years, the main effects of the estate and gift taxes have been to create an industry for thousands of highly paid lawyers and estate planners, to help the super-wealthy waste time and money avoiding it, and to bankrupt successful family businesses when their original owners die," Gessing concluded. "The 109th Congress can close this sad chapter of our tax history by passing Congressman Cox's death tax repeal plan immediately."

NTU is a non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and more accountability from elected officials at all levels. Note: Gessing's letter to Rep. Cox, along with numerous studies and commentaries on the death tax, are available at