They say the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. And taxes on dying if you’re in the US. That’s right, the luxury of death comes with a price in the land of the free, thanks to the death tax. Now, Republicans are working to introduce legislation that would allow Americans and their families to rest in peace, free of charge.
The estate tax, or death tax, was first executed in the United States in 1916 as a means to generate revenue for the federal government. Supporters said it would address concerns about wealth concentration. The tax has been rewritten and revised over the years and numerous states have imposed their own death tax on top of the federal one. This is not the same as the inheritance tax that directly taxes beneficiaries.
US Representative Randy Feenstra, a proponent of eliminating this absurd tax, believes this bill is hurting farmers in particular. I have heard similar sentiments from my own clients. People fled England to America to avoid government confiscation of property through taxation. Britain has a 100-year land lease program whereby you pay the actual fair value of the property you bought outright. At the end of that 100 years, the next tenant must pay the full fair value once again. This is how the “rich” made their money keeping it in the family and never selling land. It is also why Britain was forced to hand Hong Kong back to China after 100 years.
People fled to America so they could actually pass property down to their children like the rich landholding families in Britain. This was the origin of the term “freehold” meaning you could actually own the land. America was the land of opportunity because it was all freehold and people could for the first time rise from the poor rank to that of the rich by hard work, saving, and being able to create wealth for the family unit. This was the American Dream.
Failing to repeal this tax will change American agriculture. As Rep. Feenstra notes:
“Over 99% of our country’s two million farms and ranches and over 95% of our nation’s small businesses are owned and operated by individuals and families. In other words, the American economy is powered by mom-and-pop shops on main street and farms that have been in the family for generations. Naturally, the federal government only sees these incredible farms and small businesses as potential sources of tax revenue, completely ignoring the sacrifice and labor that made these enterprises successful.”
This is one of the reasons why the wealthy in China are buying US farmland. The manner in which governments globally treat farmers is shameful. The government is not our next of kin; we do not save our entire lives to provide a better life for government.