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An Open Letter to the United States Senate: Co-Sponsor Senator Jeff Sessions' Immediate Death Tax Repeal Bill

May 10, 2005

Dear Senator:

Now is the time to completely and permanently eliminate the death tax. As you may know, repeal of this unfair and immoral tax is one of the core goals of NTU and it was a centerpiece of both President Bush's successful re-election campaign and many successful Congressional campaigns nationwide. The House of Representatives has already passed permanent repeal legislation by a 110 vote majority (42 Democrats supported permanent repeal in the House). For these reasons and many others, I urge you to co-sponsor the Jobs Protection and Estate Tax Reform Act of 2005, which is being introduced by Senator Jeff Sessions. Upon passage this bill would eliminate the estate and gift taxes immediately (retroactive to January 1, 2005).

The death tax punishes thrift, savings, and hard work. It also undermines the ability of family businesses to survive to the next generation. Most economists would agree that the death tax is an inefficient means of raising revenue. In fact, due to private and public sector collection, compliance, and avoidance costs, and the implementation of a modified step-up basis for capital gains contained in this bill, eliminating the estate and gift taxes under this legislation is likely to increase rather than decrease the net revenue yield to the federal government.

While the economic case against the death tax is persuasive enough, the moral case is even more powerful. Because it taxes virtue -- living frugally and accumulating wealth -- the tax wastes the talent of able people, both those engaged in enforcing the tax and the probably even greater number engaged in devising arrangements to escape the tax. The death tax is also punitive, because it adds a second or third layer of taxation on the same assets.

Having been in place 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 them, and to bankrupt successful family businesses when their original owners die.

When this or any other permanent repeal of the death tax comes to the floor for a vote, it is sure to be one of our most heavily weighted votes of the year. Please help make permanent repeal of this hated tax a reality by signing on as a co-sponsor. Contact Senator Sessions' Legislative Director, Alan Hanson at or 224-4124 to do so.


Paul J. Gessing
Director of Government Affairs