Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Legislation Introduced to Repeal the Death Tax

by Colter Brown

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Taxation and Internal Revenue Service Oversight, led 40 of his Senate colleagues, including Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, in reintroducing legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, more commonly known as the death tax. The Death Tax Repeal Act would end this purely punitive tax that has the potential to hit family-run farms, ranches, and businesses as the result of the owner’s death.

“Agriculture is the backbone of South Dakota’s economy,” said Thune. “For years I have fought to protect farm and ranch families from the onerous and unfair death tax. Family-owned farms and ranches often bear the brunt of this tax, which makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations. I will continue to do everything in my power to remove these roadblocks for family businesses and repeal the death tax once and for all.”

“For far too long, the death tax has wreaked havoc on farm families and small businesses across Kentucky. The burden of this unfair and punitive tax can be devastating for families who only want to pass down their hard-earned livelihoods to the next generation. Washington Democrats need to recognize the economic damage they’ve inflicted and join Republicans in ending this harmful tax,” said McConnell. “I’m proud to stand with Senator Thune for repealing the death tax for good. Kentuckians must be allowed to build upon the legacies of their family farms without fear of financial ruin.”

“No cattle producer should ever be forced to sell their family’s farm or ranch to pay a tax bill due to the death of a family member,” said Todd Wilkinson, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and South Dakota cattle producer. “Repealing the death tax is a commonsense way to keep the farm or ranch in the family. As a land-based, capital-intensive industry, most cattle producing families are asset-rich and cash-poor, with few options to pay off tax liabilities. It is unacceptable that some families are forced to sell off land, farm equipment, parts of the operation, or the entire ranch to pay the estate tax. We need a tax code that promotes the continuation of family-owned businesses instead of breaking them up.”

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Kennedy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Thune led the Senate’s attempt to repeal the estate tax while Congress considered the Tax Cuts of Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017. Although the final version of the TCJA did not repeal the death tax, the law effectively doubled the individual estate and gift tax exclusion to $10 million ($12.9 million in 2023 dollars) through 2025, which prevents more families and generationally-owned businesses from being affected by this tax. The increased exclusion expires at the end of 2025, which increases uncertainty and planning costs for family-owned businesses, farms, and ranches.  

Thune’s bill is supported by more than 150 members of the Family Business Coalition and 111 members of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, which includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Policy and Taxation Group, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others.

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Sen. John Thune/NCBA

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