TIME FOR LASTING ESTATE TAX REPEAL
It is time that the federal government permanently repeals the estate tax for everyone. Under the tax reduction act of 2001, the House and Senate enacted a law that phased out the so-called "death" tax by 2010, but the same bill allowed the tax to reappear in 2011. The Republican-controlled House recently passed a new law that would do away with the estate tax permanently and sent the bill on to the Senate.
LAST TUESDAY, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., decided to join Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., in voting in favor of the permanent elimination of this tax that has caused havoc with thousands of Oregon families. We applaud both of Oregon's senators in joining together to stop this regressive tax that has meant the end to many family-owned businesses.
Wyden was reported as saying in a recent speech that, "No one will suffer more than the employees of family-owned companies in this state that will break up, or sell out to larger corporations, in order to satisfy their estate tax obligations."
The estate tax has caused many farmers, owners of timber stands, newspaper publishers and numerous other business owners to sell out to corporations, not because they didn't want to keep the business, but they couldn't afford to keep that business and pay the taxes.
One of the fundamental ideas of America has been to allow entrepreneurial families to build upon the success of one generation after another. In the case of farming families, it has been next to impossible to sell the business to the next generation, which cannot afford the high interest from a bank loan, while trying to pay the operating costs with revenues that have not increased much in three decades.
LEADING SENATE Democrats have opposed repeal, saying that the proposed legislation only favors the wealthy and threatens to widen the federal budget deficit. The reality is that keeping family-owned businesses intact from generation to generation will allow for the dreams and aspirations of families to be passed down. If it is in the best interests of the family to sell the business to someone else, that option is still available.
According to Bond Starker, president of Starker Forests Inc. of Corvallis, "If the estate tax were to go away, we could put those resources and time into more productive things in terms of trying to manage our business and grow our trees."
It is refreshing to see that Oregon's two U.S. senators are willing to cross the party line when necessary to improve the quality of life for Oregonians.
SHARE YOUR VIEWS
Have an opinion that's different from ours, our columnists or our letter writers? Write it down and send it in. The Observer encourages reader input through letters and guest columns.