U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and dozens of his Senate colleagues in reintroducing legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, more commonly known as the death tax. Thune’s bill, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019, would finally 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.
Thune led the Senate’s effort to repeal the estate tax while Congress considered the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017. Although the final version of the TCJA did not repeal the death tax, the law doubled the individual estate and gift tax exclusion to $10 million ($11.4 million in 2019 dollars) through 2025, which will prevent more families from being affected by this tax.
“Although we made great progress during the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act negotiations, the death tax still remains an onerous and unfair tax that punishes hard-working families,” said Thune. “Oftentimes, family-owned farms and ranches bear the brunt of this tax, which threatens families’ agricultural legacies and makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations. This way of life is integral to so many South Dakota families, which is why I remain committed to removing roadblocks for these family businesses, and we can start by repealing the death tax once and for all.”
“With Senator Thune’s leadership, I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to finally end the unfair death tax,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s the government’s final insult to force grieving families to visit both the undertaker and the IRS on the same day. Our historic tax reform legislation provided major relief from this burden to many Kentuckians – especially those in farming and rural communities. Now is the time for our Democratic colleagues to join us to take the next step to repeal the death tax once and for all.”
“Congress ought to do everything possible to encourage family enterprises to get next generations involved and keep the doors open for business,” said Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley. “It’s getting harder all the time to keep a farm or small business in the family from one generation to the next. The estate tax doesn’t serve any purpose except forcing family farms and family-run businesses to waste precious capital on costly tax planning and in too many cases, paying taxes on income or property that have already been taxed once. Rather than sending even more taxes to Washington, D.C, it would be far better to allow family farms to keep this money so they can invest in the rural communities they are located in to create new opportunities.”
In addition to Thune, McConnell, and Grassley, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), 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.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R- Fla.), and Todd Young (R- Ind.).
Thune’s bill is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, NFIB, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, Policy and Taxation Group, the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others.