COLUMN: Congress Should Repeal the Estate Tax and Make the Sales Tax Deduction Permanent
Americans prosper and create prosperity for others when they are able to keep and spend more of what they earn. April is Tax Month, and it can be a reminder that nothing in life is ‘as certain as death and taxes,’ to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin. The federal tax code should be consistent, encourage economic growth, and allow Americans to plan with certainty. That is why I supported legislation passed in the House this month to reduce the tax burden on families, farms, and businesses by repealing the federal estate tax (or “death tax”) and to make the sales-tax deduction permanent.
The death tax is really a tax on the American Dream: it is a form of double taxation that hurts families by getting in the way of passing on a lifetime of hard work to the next generation. The death tax does not just affect those with stock portfolios; it also affects landowners in rural areas, small business owners, farmers and ranchers. As a farmer myself, I have seen the impact of this tax on families in Central Washington when loved ones are faced with a financial burden and are forced to sell assets – farm property and equipment – to pay tax bills. For all the harm that it causes for families, the death tax added only about $12.7 billion in revenue in 2013, which accounts for less than 0.1% of federal revenue. The tax code should not discourage families from passing on the fruit of their efforts or require them to be liable to the taxman until the very end. I supported H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, to right this wrong by ending the death tax once and for all.
Another portion of the tax code that directly affects families, jobs and economic growth in Washington state is the state and local sales-tax deduction. Washington is one of the few states nationwide that does not levy a state income tax. In 2012, 27 percent of Washington state filers, or 900,000 taxpayers, took advantage of the state sales tax deduction and were able to reduce their taxable income to the federal government by $1.9 billion. The average Washington taxpayer saved $602, which is a significant amount for a family and money they can then use to support themselves and in turn the local economy. Individuals and small business owners need a tax code that is reliable and consistent, but this deduction expired in 2014. Maintaining the state and local sales tax deduction is critical for Washington families, and I supported the State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015 to make state and local sales tax deductions permanent.
Failure to renew the sales-tax deduction would position Washingtonians at a disadvantage compared to those who live in other states where they are able to claim deductions for state income taxes. Taxpayers deserve a tax code that works for them, not against them. Repealing the death tax and permanently restoring the deduction for state and local sales tax is the right thing to for American families.