Senator John ThuneThe end of the current session of Congress is drawing near and these final weeks, commonly referred to as the "lame duck," are now upon us. The Democrats are still in the majority in both the House and the Senate and have an ambitious agenda, but they have yet to take action on one of the most important economic issues facing our nation: The looming tax increases that are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2011. If Congress does not act during the lame duck session, the largest tax hike in our nation's history will take place at the start of the new year and the average South Dakota family will be hit with approximately $1,700 in tax increases.
These tax hikes include an increase in the death tax which penalizes those who simply wish to pass their assets, and often times their small businesses, on after they die to their children or grandchildren. If Congress does not act, the death tax, which is repealed for 2010, will be reinstated at a 55 percent rate for estates worth over $1 million. This massive increase will severely hurt South Dakota's farmers, ranchers, and small business owners.
Also included in the looming tax increases is a marriage penalty tax. South Dakota couples should not be punished simply because they have chosen to marry.
Without passing this necessary tax relief, families with children will also expect to see a tax increase. Families throughout the nation are currently struggling to make ends meet. The federal government should not be seeking to increase their financial load by allowing the child tax credit to expire.
As Congress continues to consider allowing the 2001 and 2003 tax increases to take effect, individuals, families, and small business owners remain under a cloud of uncertainty. With nearly 10 percent national unemployment, this uncertainty further hamstrings our nation's ability to create jobs for the nearly 15 million Americans who are unemployed.
I support extending all of the 2001 and 2003 tax provisions to provide necessary tax relief for individuals, families, and small businesses in South Dakota. Raising taxes in the middle of these tough economic times is unacceptable and pushing this debate on to the next session of Congress is simply irresponsible.