|The Honorable John ThuneUnited States Senate511 Dirksen Senate Office BuildingWashington, DC 20510||The Honorable Kevin BradyUnited States House of Representatives301 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515|
Dear Senator Thune and Congressman Brady:
On behalf of the members of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of the “Death Tax Repeal Act,” S. 860 and H.R. 1105 in the Senate and House, respectively. These bills would repeal the federal estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes, as well permanently cap the gift tax rate at 35 percent and establish a $5 million lifetime gift tax exemption.
An end to the federal estate, or death tax, is long overdue. Instituted nearly 100 years ago, the tax was originally intended to be a temporary source of defense funds during World War I. Today, the United States has the fourth highest death tax among developed countries. Supporters’ claims that the revenue is needed for government functions and to prevent unfair wealth concentration are outdated and far outweighed by the economic damage the tax causes. Many economists agree that it is an inefficient means of raising revenue. In fact, due to savings on collection costs, higher economic growth, increased investment, and higher employment, repeal of the death tax is likely to bolster net federal receipts.
Although it brings in less than one-half of one percent of total federal tax revenue, this levy certainly leaves an indelible mark on our economy. As a tax on capital and entrepreneurship it slows business activity, destroys jobs, and suppresses wages. A March 2015 study by the Tax Foundation found that repealing the death tax would reap an enormous benefit for the economy with nearly 150,000 new jobs and an additional .08 percent in much needed economic growth over just ten years, confirming similar findings of growth potential in an earlier study by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
The death tax threatens small businesses and farms that are passed down through generations, many of which do not have liquid assets to pay the substantial price tag the federal government has placed on inheritance. The results include the inability to reinvest in the business’s future success, laid-off employees, and buy-outs by larger entities. By punishing thrift, savings, and hard work, the death tax stifles the very attributes that are necessary to ensure America’s future prosperity.
The Death Tax Repeal Act would create immediate and tangible relief for many taxpayers, especially farmers and small business owners. NTU is pleased to endorse S. 860 and H.R. 1105; we urge all Senators and House Members to join you in co-sponsoring this legislation and working toward its immediate enactment.
Sincerely,Nan SwiftFederal Affairs Manager