ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (June 6, 2001) Persistent efforts by the Printing Industries of America (PIA), Incorporated, on behalf of its more than 13,000 members resulted in the 10 year phased-in repeal of the Death Tax, which gradually reduces the estate tax payments associated with passing property on to heirs.
Speaking to members of Congress in support of PIA's position during the May 15 Death Tax Summit was Janet Green, chief executive officer of Green's Printing Incorporated, Long Beach, California, and a member of the PIA Government Affairs Board. As a third generation printer, she said she was concerned estate taxes could force her into selling the company should her parents pass away anytime soon. The testimonials of Green and other business owners solidified congressional support toward the repeal of the Death Tax.
President Bush signed the measure June 7th as part of the larger 2001 federal tax-break package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate during the Memorial Day weekend. The House voted 240-154 and the Senate 58-33 to pass a scaled down version of the President's initial tax plan. The President offered sweeping cuts in taxes in his initial tax plan, but the House and Senate diluted that package by phasing-in rate reductions through 2010. Through a combination of gradually increasing exemptions and incremental reductions to the top tax rate, the Death Tax reaches full repeal by 2010. (See chart below.)
"The Death Tax is something PIA and its members have long believed needed to be repealed because it affects a large number of family-owned print shops by preventing a successful business from being passed on to the next generation," said Ben Cooper, PIA senior vice president of Government Affairs. "While we would have preferred an immediate repeal, this is the best we could do with a 50-50 Senate."
Unfortunately, the bill was considered under certain budgetary rules that require Congress to vote again to make the provisions in the bill permanent. Otherwise, most provisions in the bill will "sunset" as if they had never been passed on January 1, 2011.
PIA has long argued for full repeal of the death tax on the basis that the tax structure makes it cost prohibitive for printing and graphic arts shop owners to pass their businesses to heirs. Heirs hoping to continue the family business currently are forced to pay rates as high as 55 percent of the business when the owner passes away.
Instrumental in bringing the Death Tax up for repeal was Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles, Republican, who is a member of the Budget Committee.
"Government is supposed to protect our property, not confiscate it. But the federal death tax allows the government to confiscate more than half of a family's assets in some cases," Nickles told PIA. "The bill signed today by President Bush helps alleviate the burden over the coming decade, but I want permanent repeal of this punitive, unfair tax."
Eventual repeal of the Death Tax is the second high-profile success in which PIA was involved during the 107th Congress. Earlier this year, PIA and other groups convinced Congress and the president to rescind the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Ergonomics Rule, sparing printers from spending thousands of dollars in unnecessary compliance costs. In arguing for repeal of the Death Tax, PIA joined with the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition to press Congress to pass legislation to repeal the estate taxes paid by family members and heirs upon the demise of a business owner.
The tax plan also includes reductions in the individual tax rate and increases the exemption for the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT). This reform will benefit owners of businesses classified as S-Corporations and who generally fall under the AMT due to the numerous exemptions. It also includes major improvements in pension law including higher contribution limits to IRA, 401(k) and other retirement plan thresholds, as well as reform of the top-heavy rules.
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