60 Plus Chairman: Seniors Stand Against Death Tax Compromise

Tinkering with exemption will only help lawyers and accountants

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (October 27, 2017) – 60 Plus Founder and Chairman James Martin Friday issued the following statement in response to reports of a compromise on repealing the death tax:

“While the public wants to bury the onerous estate tax, special interests led by Sen. Charles Schumer are trying to keep it on life support. That’s not unusual. What alarms me is to hear that many congressional Republicans are concerned about the politics of repealing the Death Tax and are backpedalling on its abolition. Before any comprehensive tax reform bills are released, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was quoted as saying his GOP colleagues do not have, “the stomach to do a full repeal,” and instead are considering an increase in the death tax exemption.

Let me be clear: 60 Plus and its seven million members are standing against compromising on the abolition of the death tax, and will not stand for tinkering around the edges that helps lawyers and accountants more than family businesses and farms.

Under this compromise scenario being considered, there would presumably be fewer small businesses, family farms and ranches hurt by this onerous tax. In what world is that a good thing? It’s time that Republicans in the House and Senate recall not only their long-standing support for abolishing this immoral tax, but the promise made more recently by the White House. Last month, in a highly touted and watched speech to announce his tax reform framework, President Trump made a promise to the audience:

“We are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often
referred to, the death tax…. That means, especially for all of you with small businesses
that are really tremendous businesses, you’ll be able to leave them to your family, and
your family won’t have to run out and do a fire sale to try and get the money to pay the

What happened in the weeks after President Trump made this promise? A flood of pressure from parties pushing for special provisions in the legislation – not the least of which was from Warren Buffett’s insurance interests – and the predicable class warfare from Democrats trying to convince the Republican leadership that small businesses and family farms may not be worth saving after all.

Ignored in all this are the real-life examples of family farms, ranches and businesses that are adversely affected by the tax while the media zero-in on the false narrative about tax cuts for the rich. This is why so many seniors are morally opposed to this tax.

I sincerely hope that Republican leaders do not expect us to forget the 20-year battle to abolish the death tax – a crusade that was reaching a peak just one month ago as the president promised a farmer on live television that he would end the death tax.

For politicians of all stripes, they can take comfort in knowing that the public is overwhelmingly on the side of repeal. As recently as April 18, 2017, National Public Radio reported on its own survey which showed that 76 percent of those surveyed support abolishing the death tax. That’s because Americans instinctively know that this is an immoral tax.

This perspective is shared by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), who has called the death tax, “politically misguided, morally unjustified, and downright un-American.” A member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a congressman who represents many of Georgia’s peanut farmers, Rep. Bishop understands how the death tax undermines the life work and life savings of farmers and jeopardizes small-and medium-sized businesses.

I urge Chairman Hatch and his colleagues to not go wobbly on abolishing a tax that punishes grieving family members following the death of a loved one. This is a tax that hurts family farms, ranches and small businesses. I urge them not to listen to the false narrative that this is a tax cut for the rich. That is nonsense; it’s tax relief that helps preserve family owned businesses that cannot afford pricy estate planning lawyers.

This is not the time to get squishy on abolishing the death tax. If Sen. Hatch continues to talk about dropping death tax abolition from tax reform, it will be a major disappointment to me personally, our national spokesman Pat Boone, and the millions of others who want their congressional representatives to keep their promises and repeal the death tax once and for all.”