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Argument: Small businesses and farms are unaffected by estate tax

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Supporting quotations

Washington Post "Estate Tax Myths" 7/24/05: "A new study by the Congressional Budget Office examined estate tax returns filed by farmers and owners of small businesses in 1999 and 2000. The numbers that owed estate tax, the CBO found, were paltry, and the number without enough cash on hand to pay the bill even punier: In 2000, for example, just 1,659 farm estates had taxes due, of which 138 didn't report enough liquid assets to cover their tax liability...With the current exemption level of $1.5 million, the CBO analysis found, only 300 farm estates in 2000 would have owed any tax at all -- and of those, just 27 would have a tax bill in excess of their liquid assets. At the even more generous exemption scheduled to take effect in 2009, $3.5 million, the ranks of those potentially hit hard by the tax would have dwindled even further; 65 farm estates would owe taxes and 13 would not have enough cash to cover the bill."


Washington Post Op-ed Meyerson May 31, 2006: "Under the estate tax revisions that almost all Democrats support -- raising the threshold for eligibility to $3.5 million for an individual and $7 million for a couple -- it ['that the estate tax poses a threat to countless hardworking families'] becomes more nonsensical still. Under the $3.5 million exemption, the number of family-owned small businesses required to pay any taxes in the year 2000 would have been just 94, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office. The number of family farms that would have had to sell any assets to pay that tax would have been 13...On the other hand, an estate tax repeal would save the estate of Vice President Cheney between $13 million and $61 million, according to the publicly available data on his net worth. It would save the estate of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld between $32 million and $101 million. The estate of retired Exxon Mobil chairman Lee Raymond would pocket a cozy $164 million. As for the late Sam Walton's kids, whose company already makes taxpayers foot the bill for the medical expenses of thousands of its employees, the cost to the government for not taxing their estates would run into the multiple billions."


According to Factcheck 6/5/05, The Tax Policy Center projects: that there were only around 440 taxable estates made that were composed primarily of farm and business assets in 2004.

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