Feenstra Leads Legislation to Permanently Repeal Death Tax

January 18, 2024

Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) led 162 of his colleagues in introducing the Death Tax Repeal Act. This legislation would permanently repeal the death tax, which imposes an unfair and costly tax on the transfer of property, land, and other assets from a deceased family member to heirs of family farms and small businesses.

Over 99% of our country’s two million farms and ranches and over 95% of our nation’s small businesses are owned and operated by individuals and families, and this legislation would enable these multigenerational businesses to continue to support their families without having to pay a devastating tax upon the death of a family member. 

The Death Tax Repeal Act enjoys support from 194 organizations.

“The death tax represents double taxation at its worst. Iowa families grieving the loss of a loved one should not face an enormous tax bill from the federal government just to continue the family tradition of farming or keep their small business open and operational,” said Rep. Randy Feenstra. “I’m proud to lead 162 of my colleagues to permanently repeal the death tax, ensure that hardworking families, farmers, and small businesses keep more of their hard-earned money, and strengthen family-owned-and-operated enterprises in Iowa. By fully eliminating the death tax, we can keep China away from our farmland, allow family farms and small businesses to succeed, and encourage the next generation of Iowa farmers and business owners to plant their roots in rural Iowa, support our main streets, and contribute to our economy.”

“Families who spend a generation building up a successful farm, ranch, or small business should be rewarded – not punished – by our tax code. Unfortunately, when a loved one passes away, many such families are forced to choose between attending to their grief or the threat of losing their business because of the excessive costs imposed by Washington’s misguided death tax,” said Rep. Jason Smith, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “Repealing the death tax is a necessary step to ensuring that family-owned farms and small businesses across America can continue to thrive and carry on their family’s legacy of hard work. I am proud to support this important piece of legislation introduced by my colleague, Rep. Feenstra, and look forward to continuing the fight on behalf of American family farmers, ranchers, and small businesses.”

“I have always believed that the death tax is politically misguided, morally unjustified, and downright un-American,” said Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. “It undermines the life work and the life savings of farmers and jeopardizes small- and medium-sized businesses in Georgia and across the nation.”

“Farmers and ranchers face unpredictable challenges from changing weather to fluctuating markets. The tax code shouldn’t add to the uncertainty,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We appreciate Congressmen Randy Feenstra and Sanford Bishop for their work on the Death Tax Repeal Act, which will help ensure families can afford to pass their farms to the next generation.”

“Family-owned manufacturers are critical to the manufacturing supply chain and key to our global competitiveness. The death tax hinders the next generation of manufacturing leaders from investing in their operations, workforce and infrastructure—damaging the legacy their loved ones left behind,” said Charles Crain, Vice President of Domestic Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “The NAM supports the Death Tax Repeal Act, which would protect family-owned manufacturers across the country and thanks Congressman Feenstra for introducing this important legislation.”

“The death tax disproportionately impacts multi-generational, family-owned businesses that are asset rich but cash poor and must liquidate their assets in order to pay the tax. As a result, this tax harms main street businesses across the country, including wholesaler-distributors, and hinders job creation, entrepreneurial activity, and new investment in local communities,” said Brian Wild, Chief Government Relations Officer at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. “NAW applauds Congressman Randy Feenstra (R-IA) for introducing the Death Tax Repeal Act to end this unfair tax on family-owned businesses and urges all lawmakers to support the legislation.”

“Independent operators are the heart and souls of their restaurants, and their death often leaves their businesses and community devastated. When the family is ready to pick up the pieces and plan a new future, being faced with the estate tax can be overwhelming,” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association. “We appreciate Rep. Feenstra’s efforts to permanently repeal the death tax. His support will help ensure that small business owners can build generational success in communities across the country.”

“Taxing small business owners at death is wrong. Repealing the death tax will help to keep small family businesses in the family and prevent them from being acquired by huge competitors,” said Jeff Brabant, Vice President of Federal Government Relations at the National Federation of Independent Business. “NFIB thanks Representatives Feenstra and Bishop for re-introducing this important legislation.”

“Family-owned and multi-generational restaurants are cornerstones for Iowa communities and neighborhoods. A federal tax on these family-owned businesses after its owner passes increases stress and sadness – all while endangering operations,” said Ross Groeneweg, Orange City Pizza Ranch. “We appreciate Congressman Feenstra’s leadership to repeal the ‘death tax’ and we urge Congress to advance this important legislation.”

“For many family-owned construction firms, the estate tax is like a Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the owners. Should the worst happen, and the owner of a family-owned construction firm dies unexpectedly, the consequences for the business and local community can be catastrophic, causing lost jobs, investment, or worse,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, Chief Executive Officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Passing the Death Tax Repeal Act and permanently getting rid of the estate tax is long overdue, and AGC strongly supports Rep. Feenstra’s legislation.”

“It is unconscionable for cattle producers to face a tax that forces them to sell all or part of their family’s farm or ranch due to the death of a family member. With the cost of farmland rapidly rising, the Death Tax presents a significant threat to the future of family farms and ranches,” saidTodd Wilkinson, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Most cattle producers have significant assets but are cash-poor and operate on thin margins, leaving them with few options when they are saddled with an unexpected tax liability. Some producers are forced to sell off assets including land, livestock, farm equipment, or even their home. This is an incredible loss, and it starts a vicious cycle where future generations continue to face punitive taxes their ancestors paid multiple times. Rural America needs a tax code that promotes multi-generational, family-owned businesses instead of chopping them up.”

“More than 150 small business associations from nearly every industry of the economy support Congressmen Feenstra (R-IA) and Bishop’s (D-GA) Death Tax Repeal Act. Family businesses across the country are still struggling to keep their doors open and keep their workers employed while this administration proposes taxing unrealized gains, increasing the estate tax burden, and eliminating step-up in basis,” said Palmer Schoening, Chairman of the Family Business Coalition. “Rather than proposing more job-killing tax increases, Congress should be doing everything possible to encourage small business hiring. Representatives Feenstra and Bishop deserve credit for bringing a diverse coalition together around this commonsense legislation, which will help family businesses and farms pass to the next generation of ownership.”

“The estate tax unfairly targets American family businesses like wine and spirits wholesalers. Repealing the death tax will provide much-needed relief for our family-owned businesses, allowing them to invest in growth and in creating more jobs for their communities,” said Dawson Hobbs, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. “The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America supports Congressman Feenstra’s legislation and looks forward to working with Congress to move this bill forward.”

“The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) supports the Death Tax Repeal Act and greatly appreciates Congressman Feenstra’s continued leadership in fighting for family businesses,” saidDaniel Fisher, Senior Vice President at the Associated Equipment Distributors. “Multigenerational, capital-intensive businesses, such as equipment dealers and our customers, remain plagued by the constant threat of losing their companies due to the estate tax.”

Full legislative text can be found HERE.