Letter to Editor

Concern over death tax jettison

Most politicians practice their own version of the classic bait and switch sales pitch. Adrian Smith, Nebraska’s Third District Representative in Congress, executes his with professional expertise. 

Dangle a popular concept in front of your constituents and get them on your side: “Americans spend 2.6 billion hours each year filing income tax returns” he says, so let’s “Simplify the process, expand the standard deduction, and allow 90 percent of Americans to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard.” And then exploit. Pull the switch. Dangle some lies, scare tactics and a dose of nonsense in front of them and they will probably buy into it: “Nebraskans have continually called for the elimination of the death tax which threatens farmers, ranchers and small business owners. Our plan will end this damaging tax once and for all.”

And just how damaging is the death tax, also known as the estate or silver spoon tax? Well, for starters, 99.8 percent of estates owe nothing due to the exemption of 5.49 million dollars in 2017, a figure that has risen year after year while the tax rate has fallen (about 17 percent.) 

Obviously, only very wealthy heirs who are able to pay are affected and only a handful of small, family owned farms and businesses owe any tax at all. Furthermore, not one single farm had to be sold to pay the estate tax as Smith would have you believe. It appears that Smith’s “much ado about nothing” concern is simply another Republican ruse to obtain enormous tax breaks for the 2 percent.

Meanwhile, the loss of this significant source of revenue provided by the estate tax, about 269 billion over a decade, would deprive America of funds to support healthcare, education, national defense, scientific research, environmental protection and infrastructure. And this does the damage, not the tax.

But not to worry, the likes of the Waltons (Walmart), Trumps  and the rest of the ultra-rich power figures will surely reward Smith’s campaign kitty. The tax break for the Waltons would be an estimated 53 billion dollars if the death tax is jettisoned. 

And as for Adrian, rest assured his constituents will continue to swing at his sucker pitches and re-elect him (10 years now and reeling) as long as that big “R” precedes his name on the ballot. And sadly, they get what they deserve, a weak puppet who votes against the best self-interests of the majority. 

Ron Holscher, Ogallala

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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