For the first time in a decade, the House is set this week to vote on a bipartisan bill to repeal the Federal estate tax. This has been a priority legislative issue for Forest America’s Caretakers for many years. The death tax, quite simply, places an immense financial and emotional burden on the families who own and manage America’s private forests at a time of grief for families. Many of our Caretakers’ forests have been in their families for generations, and the prospect of having to sell these forests to pay a stifling confiscatory tax is in essence punishing them for pursuing and achieving the American dream.
There are many reasons why this legislation is good for the economy and good for the country. A variety of studies have found that repealing the tax would spur job creation and ensure higher wages.
The death tax actually contributes a very small amount of revenue to the Federal treasury—less than one half of one percent of Federal revenue. One 2013 study found that repealing the tax would in fact increase revenues by up to $3.3 billion per year because of the economic growth it would spur and the increase of revenues from other taxes. A repeal would also save our Caretakers from the expensive burden of complicated estate plans and expensive insurance policies required to address the tax.
Finally, this legislation has the support of American voters. Poll after poll over many years find a super-majority of voters support repealing the death tax.
But for Forest America’s Caretakers, it’s even more important. Many of our members have grown their forestlands over decades into thriving family business that help support multiple generations. To have to sell off those lands to pay the death tax is unfair and can have a devastating impact on the entire family. Statistics show that more than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation, and 90 percent of family businesses do not survive to the third generation!
Please contact your Member of Congress and let them know that you strongly support H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, when it is brought to the House floor on Thursday. We can’t stress enough how important this is. We need to let the more than 60 percent of House members who were elected since the last repeal vote took place that they need to take a formal position in favor of this action. In addition, the 57 freshman members of the House of Representatives also have major forestry holdings and constituents in their districts. These new lawmakers need to be keenly aware of issues that impact forest management and forest sustainability of private forests and their caretakers.
We have an easy tool on Forest America that will help you send a message to your Member of Congress urging them to vote YES on H.R. 1105. Simply click on this link, enter your zip code, and send your message.