U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, joined Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), ranking member 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 2021, 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.
“I’ve fought hard to repeal the onerous and unfair death tax since I came to Washington, including by leading the effort in 2017 to protect more farm and ranch families from it,” said Thune. “Family-owned farms and ranches, like those in South Dakota, can bear the brunt of this tax, which oftentimes makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations. Agriculture is our state’s top industry, 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.”
“Kentucky farm families and small businesses have enough to deal with during this pandemic. They shouldn’t also have to worry about an unfair death tax when they pass their livelihoods down to the next generation,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “Republicans’ historic tax reform helped unleash the best American economy in 50 years, including exempting many Kentuckians from the death tax. Unfortunately, Washington Democrats want to double down on the federal government’s final insult and force more grieving families to visit the undertaker and the IRS on the same day. I’m proud to join Senator Thune to permanently end the death tax and support opportunity for rural families and communities.”
“The estate tax may be the most unfair tax on the books,” said Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo. “High federal taxes should not prevent a family farmer, rancher or other business owner from passing the business they built onto their children. This unfair tax must be permanently repealed.”
“Typically, farming and ranching operations have large holdings of assets but generate low amounts of cash return,” said Eric Jennings, president of South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. “A loss of a loved one often results in large estates that do not generate enough income to pay the estate tax without selling part of the operation. It is heartbreaking to see a family have to sell off so much of their parent's farm or ranch that they are unable to continue the operation they have worked into with the intention of continuing their family's legacy. Eliminating the estate tax will help insure the survival of family farms and ranches.”
Thune led the Senate’s effort to repeal the death 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 ($11.7 million in 2021 dollars) through 2025, which will prevent more families from being affected by this tax.
In addition to Thune, McConnell, and Crapo, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. 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.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Scott (F-Fla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Thune’s bill is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, NFIB, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Family Business Coalition, the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, the Policy and Taxation Group, the Associated General Contractors of America, the National Taxpayers Union, and many others.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House Representatives by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.).