By Congressman Will Hurd, 23rd Congressional District
Family farms and ranches in our district are part of a cycle that is as sure as the rising sun. They prepare their fields, manage their livestock and crops to protect their growth and then harvest the fruits of their labor. While the crops and methods may change through the years, and the bounty may be unpredictable, harvest time arrives.
Unfortunately, family farms, ranches and small businesses in our district face another surety that is just as predictable, but far more insidious. Instead of bringing life, it brings destruction. Itâ€™s called the Death Tax.
We all work hard so that we can ensure a better future for our children, and hopefully pass down the success of our efforts. Unfortunately, the Death Tax is a leading reason that many of these family-owned businesses are not successfully passed down to the next generation.
Family ranches, farms and businesses are sometimes heavily invested in land and infrastructure, making them â€˜inventory richâ€™, but quite often, â€˜cash poorâ€™. When the Death Tax hits, the inheritors find themselves facing an insurmountable tax bill, with not enough money tosatisfy the IRS.
If they want to continue to run their farm, ranch or business they can either choose to take out a loan and go into debt, or they can sell some of their assets or land, which can severely cripple their ability to continue operating. This leads to less productivity and can force them to fire some of their hard-working employees. In some situations, their only option is to sell their business, closing down completely.
And this doesnâ€™t just happen when the business, ranch or farm is passed down the first time. It happens every time. Think about that. The same land and assets are taxed at 40 percent over and over again simply because the current owner dies. And thatâ€™s on top of all of the other sales and property taxes paid throughout the years.
While this tax is disastrous for family-owned businesses, it raises very little revenue for the federal treasury. Over the last year, the receipts from the Death Tax was only slightly more than one half of one percent of the total revenue collected by the federal government and it pays for less than two days of federal spending.
Read that again. Death Tax receipts equal less than two days of federal government spending.
I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™d prefer to figure out how to cut out two days of spending from the already bloated and wasteful federal budget, and let these hard-working family ranches, farms and businesses keep those hard-earned dollars. That money is barely a blip in the federal budget, but it can make all the difference in the world to the thousands offamilies impacted every year — many of them living right here in our district.
The importance of the continuation of these family ranches and farms goes beyond just our district. The United States must not be dependent on foreign sources for our food supply. This is a national security issue.
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on a bipartisan bill that will completely repeal the Death Tax. I am a proud sponsor of this legislation and I look forward to voting to pass the first law that will permanently repeal the Death Tax. This legislation is another example showing that this Congress is indeed working for the American people and we are accomplishing feats previously thought impossible.
In the United States, working hard and taking risks should be rewarded, not punished. We should do more to encourage entrepreneurship and allow families to include the next generation in their ventures. While completely reforming the tax code is an important part of that, killing the Death Tax is a great first step.