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Reichert Opening Statement: The Burden of the Estate Tax on Family Businesses and Farms

March 18, 2015

WASHINGTON — Today, Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA) delivered the following opening statement during a hearing on the burdens family businesses and farms face when planning for and paying the estate tax.

“Today, as we consider the burdens family businesses and farms face planning for and paying the estate tax, or as it is more commonly known, the death tax, we will have the opportunity to hear from witnesses who have experienced this challenge first-hand. Thank you to our guests and witnesses for joining us for this important hearing and for sharing your stories.

“The story is the same in all of our districts—family business owners and farmers work hard for their entire lives with the goal of passing on the fruits of their labor, but face the sometimes insurmountable hurdle of the death tax. And in addition to the actual tax liability the death tax imposes, merely planning for it—regardless of whether these businesspeople and farmers end up owing it—is yet another challenge that we will hear discussed today. In fact, as I am sure many of my colleagues have, I consistently hear from local businesses about how this unnecessary tax threatens the livelihoods of families.

“In my home state there are numerous examples of the harmful impact of the death tax. In Seattle, permanent relief from the death tax is critical for family-owned businesses like the Seattle Times Company, which is a fourth and fifth-generation family business. And, in my own District, in Issaquah, Washington, last year, a family had to make the difficult choice to sell their farm which had been family run for over 120 years. That is a devastating decision to have to make, and they are not alone in making it. 

“I thank Congressman Kevin Brady for his work to provide much needed permanent relief to families across the country, and I am proud to be a cosponsor of his legislation to do just that—by repealing the death tax once and for all. I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses and continued work on this important issue.”