Tax Fairness Coalition Sends Letter to House Ways & Means Committee Urging Opposition to Repeal of Federal Estate Tax

March 25, 2015

Describes Importance of Revenues Generated by Tax that Affects Only the Richest Americans

Washington, D.C.  – Americans for Tax Fairness, representing 425 national and state organizations, sent a letter today to the members of the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives strongly urging them to oppose the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 1105). The estate tax is projected to raise about $246 billion in revenues over 10 years.

The letter states: The estate tax exists to provide a meaningful check on the growing concentration of wealth, while generating revenue from those most able to pay and encouraging charitable giving. America is rapidly becoming divided between the extremely rich and everyone else; repealing the estate tax will exacerbate that trend. … The estate tax is a small step to level the playing field and create an economy that works for all. … The arguments made for repealing the estate tax are fraudulent and cloak the real aim of this legislation, which is to provide a large tax cut to the wealthy. … We urge Congress to go in the opposite direction – the estate tax needs to be strengthened, not repealed.”

The letter lays out a comprehensive case against repealing the estate tax, pointing out that the vast majority of deaths (99.8%, or two out of 1,000) do not trigger federal estate taxes, and only about 20 small business and small family farm estates nationwide owed any estate tax in 2013. It urges Congress to adopt President Obama’s proposal to lower the threshold for paying the estate tax to exempt estates below $3.5 million ($7 million for married couples), and to establish the top estate tax rate at 45%. Making these modest changes would still allow 99.7% of Americans to avoid paying federal estate taxes. These and other changes in gift taxes would raise an additional $214 billion over 10 years, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The letter concludes by describing the tax tradeoffs associated with the estate tax: the $246 billion the estate tax currently raises over ten years would pay for the ten-year shortfall in the highway and mass transit trust funds ($164 billion), pay for President Obama’s proposal to provide all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with high-quality, publicly-funded preschool ($75 billion over 10 years), or provide free community college to 9 million students ($60 billion over 10 years).

A full copy of the letter can be read here.

Americans for Tax Fairness is a diverse coalition of 425 national and state organizations that collectively represent tens of millions of members. The organization was formed on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. ATF is playing a central role in Washington and in the states on federal tax-reform issues.

TJ Helmstetter, Communications Director, Americans for Tax Fairness 
(608) 772-1241