The House is gearing up to vote Thursday on repealing the estate tax, an issue that has energized the base in both parties — and that Democrats and Republicans see as a political winner.
Republicans are making the vote the centerpiece of their agenda during a week when millions of taxpayers face the annual IRS filing deadline and anti-tax groups regularly hold protests.
For the GOP, repealing the estate tax — or the “death tax,” as they’ve long called it — is more than just a proposal favored by their supporters in the business community.
Republican leaders insist it’s patently unfair that people pay taxes as they accumulate wealth through the years, only for their heirs to pay additional taxes on that wealth after they die.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Tuesday that it is “morally wrong” for a family’s toughest decision after a death to be figuring out the next steps for their business. “That’s not supposed to be something people have to deal with when they’re grieving for the loss of a loved one,” he told reporters.
Republicans believe that voters agree with them on that point, even as polls have long suggested that most people believe the wealthiest Americans don’t pay enough in taxes.
For their part, Democrats are just as excited for Thursday’s vote. After all, President Obama won his second term in 2012 after explicitly campaigning for higher taxes on the wealthy.
And Democrats say they’re more than happy to have a debate over a repeal proposal that would add $270 billion to the federal debt over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while affecting only a small fraction of estates in the U.S.
“I guess when it comes to helping the wealthiest people in the country, it’s never enough,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Tuesday with a laugh.
Yup. Republicans want to repeal the estate tax and add $270 billion to the debt. But the important part is buried further down the article:
Under current law, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that 5,400 estates will have to deal with the tax over the next several years, out of the well over 2 million deaths that occur annually.
That’s because individuals with estates valued at less than $5.43 million this year, and married couples with estates worth less than $10.86 million, are exempt. The 2013 “fiscal cliff” deal set the current parameters, which also include a 40 percent rate and linking the exemption parameters to inflation.
The estate tax affects only 5,400 taxpayers per year. Out of a couple million.
The Republicans will try to sell this as something that saves you some tax money, but unless you have an estate valued at 5.4 million, it won’t affect you at all.