Blanche and the estate tax | Arkansas Blog

Blanche and the estate tax

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Brummett gives U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln some benefit of the doubt on her advocacy of estate tax cuts. It's really about the "small" farmers, she insists, and not the Walton billionaires. Given her farm background, she undoubtedly feels some kinship, but mostly to enduring folklore of the Delta crowd.

Because the facts suggest she's either stupid or dishonest. (And if she really thinks the Waltons don't care about a 10 percent marginal tax cut on a billion dollar estate -- the people who made their money a penny at a time off the poorest shoppers in America -- she needs to think harder. $100 million isn't chump change or, as she terms it, "a drop in the bucket." Some bucket.)

Lincoln's simple statement of impact on farmers doesn't begin to explain the whole situation.

She'd exempt a farm worth $10 million (the combined exemption of a married couple), from taxation. Understand that amount is after you deduct loans on the property and crop, etc. Understand that this farm can be producing hundreds of thousands in income for the family owners and THAT income is an operating cost, not a taxable burden of the estate and it would continue unabated as long as the family operates the farm. Understand that farms pledged to remain in family hands for 10 years get massive estate tax deductions. Understand that farmers get a 14-year payout on taxes under existing law. Understand that families can pass along shares to children ahead of estate time. They can set up trusts. They can buy insurance.

The myth of the land poor $10 millionaire is exactly that, a myth. If Blanche Lincoln has an example of a "small" $7 millionaire (the current exemption possible) whose family was wracked by the estate tax, it's time for her to produce him or her. Smarter minds than hers have tried and failed.

The NY Times looks at the subject again today and Lincoln's supposed advocacy of the noble small businessmen of Main Street.

“The real beneficiaries are indeed the same kind of people getting the big bonuses on Wall Street,” said Robert Greenstein, executive director of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

A new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that only 100 farms and small businesses in the entire country would be subject to the estate tax under Mr. Obama’s plan, a number that shrinks to 40 under the proposal Ms. Lincoln sponsored with Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. A subsequent analysis by the center raised the prospect that there may be no farms or small businesses in Arkansas vulnerable to the tax. (Emphasis supplied.)

And, please, PLEASE, get a load of this:

Ms Lincoln and her aides say she is instead acting on the concerns expressed by the owners of Arkansas businesses like timber firms and floral shops who worry that what they have worked to build and expand might have to be sold to pay the tax.

Call me quick, Senator Lincoln. I want to know about that Mom and Pop floral shop worth $7 million clear.

 

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