Letter to the editor: Facts matter when it comes to estate tax


To the editor:

David Young is running an ad criticizing Cindy Axne for wanting to increase the estate tax or, as some people call it, the “death tax.”

My daughter, whose father-in-law owns a farm property, recently asked me about the estate tax. At about the same time, a friend told me that his brother, a farmer, would be voting against Axne for raising the estate tax.

Here’s the truth: The vast majority of small businesses and farm estates already escape the estate tax.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that fewer than 0.2 percent of all estates nationally will be subject to the estate tax. Only about 1.3 percent of the estates that are taxable are small business or farm estates, meaning only 0.003 percent of all estates taxed will be small business or farm estates.

Opponents of the estate tax have not been able to produce a single case in which a family farm had to be sold to pay the tax. In 2001 the American Farm Bureau Federation acknowledged to the New York Times that it could not cite a single example of a farm having to be sold to pay estate taxes, and this was before the estate tax exemption level was more than tripled and the top rate was reduced.

Facts matter.

Arthur Behn


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