Hillary and Washington’s GOP Finally Agree: Death Tax is Killer


June 23, 2014 12:30PM

It seems that both Hillary Clinton and a majority of U.S House GOP members may have finally found something on which they can agree. Americans for Tax Reform’s Ryan Ellis wrote in Forbes last week that the death of the national death tax might be imminent, as the 218th cosponsor in the U.S House of Representatives signed on to support the Death Tax Repeal Act—meaning that a clear majority of House members have now officially pledged to vote for repeal.

Meanwhile, news was also breaking that Bill and Hillary Clinton are scheming (surprise) to evade having to personally pay the death tax. Common ground? Not quite. Hillary still thinks the rest of America should pay up… perhaps she’s just “dead broke” and can’t afford it, I suppose. But what difference does it make anyway?

The point is that this resurgence of support for repeal at the federal level is extremely encouraging. As Ellis surmises, Congress may do what it has not done since 2005 and vote to kill the death tax—something that Tennessee voted to do at the state level back in 2012, phased out over four years and eradicated by 2016. Of course, Washington is always a few steps behind fiscally responsible states like ours.

Ellis uses a dollar bill to illustrate the ridiculous nature of the tax in its current form. If the total revenue generated by the federal government were represented in one dollar, the revenue collected from the death tax would account for one half of one penny. Yet, the tax can take a tremendous toll on small business owners, who as Ellis notes, are driven to spend billions “on estate attorneys, actuaries, financial planners, charities, trusts, and other rent seekers who profit from the existence of even a very small federal death tax.”

Tennesseans who are already anticipating the death of this tax in 2016 can perhaps provide the cheering section for the federal initiative in the coming months. As economists Arthur B. Laffer and Wayne H. Winegarden argued at the time of Tennessee’s repeal, job creators were driven out of the state because of the tax and took “all their jobs, entrepreneurship, spending, homes and wealth with them.” Fortunately, that trend is now being reversed. Here’s to hoping that the leadership in Washington can, for once, summon the courage that leadership here at home has displayed and finally send this nasty tax to its long-awaited grave. -Lindsay Boyd Enjoy the Beacon blog? Help us keep it going with a tax-deductible gift.