Senate Republicans are gearing up for another attempt to repeal the estate tax and offer a permanent repeal, which fell short in final negotiations of the tax legislation signed into law in December 2017.
That tax cut measure doubled the individual estate and gift tax exclusion to $10 million ($11.4 million in 2019 dollars) through 2025, which will prevent more families from being affected by this tax. The Death Tax Repeal Act (S. 215) would end Internal Revenue Service collection of punitive taxes imposed on family-owned farms, ranches and small businesses once their owners pass away.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, joined Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Senate majority whip John Thune (R., S.D.) and dozens of Senate colleagues in re-introducing the legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, more commonly known as the death tax.
“Although we made great progress during the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act negotiations, the death tax still remains an onerous and unfair tax that punishes hard-working families,” Thune said. “Oftentimes, family-owned farms and ranches bear the brunt of this tax, which threatens families’ agricultural legacies and makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations.”
Grassley, who has been a longtime advocate for the permanent estate tax repeal, said Congress ought to do everything possible to encourage family enterprises to get next generations involved and keep the doors open for business.
Grassley said, “It’s getting harder all the time to keep a farm or small business in the family from one generation to the next. The estate tax doesn’t serve any purpose except forcing family farms and family-run businesses to waste precious capital on costly tax planning and, in too many cases, paying taxes on income or property that have already been taxed once. Rather than sending even more taxes to Washington, D.C., it would be far better to allow family farms to keep this money so they can invest in the rural communities they are located in to create new opportunities.”
Although McConnall called on Senate Democrats to join him, it remains a tough battle in the Senate to win. During the last tax reform overhaul, Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) did not support a full repeal, and many Democrats said it rewards the wealthy.
S. 215 is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., National Federation of Independent Businesses, Associated General Contractors of America, Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, Policy & Taxation Group and many others.
In addition to Grassley, McConnell and Thune, the bill is cosponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), John Boozman (R., Ark.), John Cornyn (R., Texas), Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Mike Crapo (R., Ida.), Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Steve Daines (R., Mont.), Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), Deb Fischer (R., Neb.), Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), John Hoeven (R., N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R., Miss.), James Inhofe (R., Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.), John Kennedy (R., La.), Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), David Perdue (R., Ga.), Jim Risch (R., Ida.), Pat Roberts (R., Kan.), Mike Rounds (R., S.D.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Todd Young (R., Ind.).