I take issue with the article by Troy Marshall on what he terms the "death tax." I am personally familiar with the impact the inheritance tax can have on family farm owners as I was forced to sell our ranch in Mississippi in 1972 when my father passed away and we could not afford the inheritance tax. Fortunately I was able to buy it back 15 years later. I am no stranger to this problem and certainly in favor of relief to family owned farms.
But let's not lose sight of the origins of the inheritance tax. It was instituted to help break up the dynasties of the robber baron era where a few families had a stranglehold on wealth in this country and in turn were exerting a hugely disproportionate influence over the political process, much to the detriment of the common citizen, including farm families. It wasn't called a death tax then, rather it was seen as a "save our democracy" tax.
In today's debate, the plight of family farm owners is being used as an excuse to provide inheritance tax relief to people who at best are passive owners of farms, who in almost all cases have the liquidity to address inheritance tax requirements and who in many cases have massive fortunes to start with and don't represent the class of owners that my father fell within and that the majority of your readers fall within. Because of their agenda, no action is being taken at all in Congress and no relief is being provided to the people who really need it, the small business and family farm owners.
Let's drop the misleading label of "death tax" and speak to the legitimate issue of how inheritance taxes impact family farms. Relief should be provided in a targeted and cost effective manner without giving a free ride to multimillionaires and billionaires. Let's not support a step backward to an era of dynasties that have only their self interest in mind and are trying to use the plight of the family farm to advance their own agendas. Let's instead support an agenda that addresses the legitimate needs of family farm and ranch owners.
-- Swep Davis, Bar D Ranch
Rose Hill, MS