There is something inherently wrong with a tax system that
leaves some married couples paying more than if they had filed as singles.
And there is something very wrong with a tax system that
forces families to sell their businesses or farms when the head of the
Congress corrected both of those flaws this year by approving two
tax-reform measures on a bipartisan vote. President Clinton vetoed both
bills. Unfortunately, the U.S. House of
Representatives couldn’t muster enough votes to override
the president’s vetoes.
According to the president, the reforms would cost the U.S.
Treasury too much _ too much in a day when our
government is running a large surplus.
Currently, the Internal Revenue Service can collect up to 55
percent of the assets of a family-owned business or farm when a father or
mother dies. Often those assets are not liquid — in other words, it’s not cash
sitting in some bank account ready to pay Uncle Sam. Most of the money is
tied up in property, machinery, equipment or inventory that is critical to the
operation of the business.
Over the years, Congress has reduced the estate tax in small ways.
The legislation President Clinton spiked would have gradually eliminated
the so-called “Death Tax” over the next decade, giving the treasury time to
adjust and garner new revenues from other federal taxes _ taxes paid
by those flourishing family-owned farms and businesses.
Hopefully, with a new president, Congress will send both bills back
to the White House, and next time they will be signed into law.
Don Brunell is president of the Association of Washington
Businesses. AWB is the state’s oldest and largest statewide
business organization, whose 3,700 members employ more than 600,000
workers across the state.