Washington DC – ASSET hosted a discussion panel on the estate tax moderated by Tax Foundation president Scott Hodge on September 30th, the day before the Government shut down. Held in the Cannon House office building to make it convenient for tax counsel in many offices, the event lasted an hour with panelists Grover Norquist from Americans for Tax Reform, former Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Chuck Marr from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Entrepreneur/Car Dealer Jack Fitzgerald kicked off the meeting noting that his involvement with ASSET came about because as a used car salesman who will soon face Saint Peter, he did not want the jobs of his 1,400 employees to be a concern. ”It’s going to be hard enough for a used car salesman” said Fitzgerald. ”ASSET is a better way to stop the harm of the estate tax but assure the same revenue.”
Chuck Marr from CBPP disagreed. With a staked out position calling for an increase in the rate to 45% and a desire to drop the exemption level to $3.5 million, Marr made the case that a second or third generation of idle rich such as a perfume heiress in the current headlines does little to add economic activity.
Scott Hodge moderated the event with an overview of the current estate tax system, questioning if we will get beyond the current debate. Grover Norquist from ATR chimed in that the death tax is so offensive. Ultimately ATR advocates for full repeal of the estate tax. ”Repealing the death tax is a big priority for taxpayers. Any and every way to approach this is welcome. ASSET is a good plan and should be a big part of the discussion.”
Senator Bennett made the case that ASSET’s solution offers the best of all worlds, because it’s an option for the taxpayer and not forced on them. By changing the collection method of the estate tax you stop all the harm immediately, but preserve the revenue that many advocate is a must have. ”Death is no longer a taxable event, you are tying the paying of the tax to an economic event instead” said Senator Bennett. Citing his own experience working for Howard Hughes after he passed away and navigating the estate tax laws, he explained that in the end the government could actually end up with more revenue.
The briefing was most animated while Chuck Marr and Grover Norquist traded jibes about the purported political activities of the IRS and the role the IRS plays in valuing assets at the time of death.