Found this piece which highlights the problem with allowing the death tax exemptions to expire and combating some of the stereotypes about the death tax:
“In 1975, my senior year in high school, there were five families farming along Route O, a two-lane blacktop that snakes along the section lines for the 10 miles between Tarkio and Westboro, two tiny towns in northwest Missouri. Four of these families are still involved in farming, and three of them have extended family farms, with several generations working in the family business. Each of those families is now headed by a farmer or a retired farmer who has a problem, a problem that is going to get much worse come January 1, 2013.
That’s when the present law concerning estate taxes expires. The exemption for exposure to the “death tax” will revert to a $1 million level, and the maximum tax rate will increase to a confiscatory 55 percent. This is hardly a tax targeted at the filthy rich, but rather an unfair levy on almost everybody who has made a lifelong career on the farm.
None of the families on my former bus route are rich. No assets compare to the Buffett fortune, or Bill Gates, or even one of those hedge fund managers who preside over Wall Street. These are people who’ve lived simply, saved their money and at this stage in their life have only one goal: to pass their life’s work to their children. In the case of the three families who have descendants actively involved in farming, they want to protect their children’s ability to live a life like they’ve lived. This rather modest goal is threatened by Congress’s failure to act on permanent estate tax reform.”
Keep reading here.
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