Death tax could become a big concern

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Chris Woodward (

A seniors advocacy group is taking the lead in the fight to repeal the federal estate tax.

The tax, often referred to as the "death tax," is set to increase at year's end if Congress does not act. The $5 million exemption, meanwhile, will drop to $1 million, a big concern for business owners and farmers alike.

Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, explains why his organization will fight to end the federal estate tax.

Martin, Jim (60 Plus Association)"We've been fighting for repeal of the death tax for a number of years now, and we've been asked to get re-involved in it for lots of reasons," he says. "First of all, the death tax is consistently -- year in and year out -- ranked as the least fair and the most unpopular tax in American history."

Martin adds that the death tax has outlived its purpose, noting that it has been imposed before in the nation's history but for defense purposes only.  The latest incarnation came in 1916 as a means of financing World War I.

"That war now has been over almost 100 years," he points out. "So our goal at 60 Plus is to get the death tax buried a fourth and final time by the year 2016, which would be the 100th birthday of the death tax imposed to finance WWI."

Meanwhile, the federal estate tax may not be the only concern. While some states were still imposing an estate tax or inheritance tax this year, an article in Forbes points out that if the country goes over the "fiscal cliff," the federal estate tax law reverts to pre-2001 parameters, including an obscure provision known as the state death tax credit that allows states any estate tax revenue that the Treasury collects. As a result, as many as 30 states would resume collecting estate taxes.

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