Letter: Estate tax harmful to some business owners

Regarding the Dec. 17 letter “Those who inherit should pay a tax”:

Perhaps Sen. Chuck Grassley should have said “business” so as not to offend letter writer Vicky Dingman. In actuality, the family farm is a business. I’ll refer to it as a generic business and keep in mind, they started these “businesses” at the same time Dingman was going to baseball games on 50-cent tickets. Actions, or decisions, have consequences.

Family businesses, by their nature and definition, employ family members. To grow their business, they take money out of the business after taxes are paid, to buy computers, bricks and mortar, education, equipment, goods to be resold and to pay themselves (sometimes) a living wage.

They have, by the sweat of their brow, made something called a “business” from nothing. They have other employees who receive a salary and benefits. They have not been subsidized in lean years but they have been frugal and sometimes they have endured personal difficulty for one or more lean years.

Now, because the parent, who has been taxed all the way through the process has died, their children are required to pay another prohibitive (death) tax that frequently results in the business being closed, just to meet the tax obligation.

If you’re truly worried about schools and bridges, is it better to have an ongoing, tax paying entity that employs taxpayers or a one time “payout” that probably won’t make it back to Johnson County or, is it more about greed and envy?

Stan Thornberry

Cedar Rapids


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