Time Is On Side Of Repeal Of Estate Tax, Daschle Tells AALU

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Washington

The mounting budget deficits and the costs of war make it harder and harder to justify permanent repeal of the estate tax, says Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

While there are few signs the advocates of repeal are ready to compromise, time is on the side of those who favor responsible reform, says Daschle, who spoke at the annual meeting of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting.

Those who advocate full repeal, he says, are dogged in their efforts and have been setting the groundwork for repeal for 10 years, and they are trying to get the candidates for House and Senate seats to sign pledges promising to support repeal.

The supporters of repeal, he adds, have a great slogan when they call for an end to the “death tax.”

Americans, Daschle says, need to know why reform, not repeal, is the best choice.

He cites the deterioration in the nations budget situation. The nation has gone from a 2001 projection of a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years to a current estimate of a $2.7 trillion deficit over 10 years. Every child that is born faces a $35,000 obligation as his or her share of the national debt, Daschle says. He calls this a “birth tax.”

“Repeal advocates talk about the death tax, but what about the birth tax?” Daschle says. What about the children, he asks, who will have to pay off the debt in their lifetimes?

No one, Daschle says, wants to see small businesses and family farms sold when an owner dies in order to pay the estate tax. “That is wrong and it is bad for the economy.”

That, he says, is why he supports reform. But the tax should not be eliminated on the transfer of massive wealth.

Daschle notes that last year, reform advocates offered to raise the estate tax exemption to $3.5 million per individual, or $7 million per couple, which would eliminate the tax on more than 99% of all estates. “But the repeal crowd still said no.”

Daschle urged AALU to continue the fight for what he called “responsible reform.”

“You have great credibility,” he said. “You should let people know about the birth tax.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 30, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.