In President Donald Trump's sales pitch for his newly-unveiled tax plan on Wednesday, he told a crowd in Indianapolis that the proposal includes "historic tax relief" for middle-income Americans. But a key tenet of the plan is the repeal of the estate tax, which would only offer a tax break to the wealthiest Americans. A group of millionaires are among those speaking out against the repeal.
The Patriotic Millionaires denounced the Bush-era tax cuts, and now they’re back with a letter to Congress, demanding that it uphold the estate tax. The tax, they say "was introduced a century ago when economic inequality had reached such historic levels that it was considered a threat to national stability. We suffer the same level of imbalance today, making preservation of the estate tax a top priority for patriotic Americans."
Only about 5,000 families—or 0.2 percent of Americans—pay the estate tax, as it only applies to fortunes greater than $5.5 million that are transferred or inherited. In a video posted to social media, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) explained the tax, which if kept in place would generate $275 billion in revenue by 2026, and what a repeal would really mean for working families.
It is particularly obscene for Trump to repeal the estate tax which would provide a $269 billion tax break to the top 0.2%. pic.twitter.com/ehnUc0xXwe— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 27, 2017
Republican operatives often refer to the estate tax as the "death tax," suggesting that average American families would be hit with unaffordable tax bills upon the death of a family member. "It's a disaster for so many small businesses and farmers, and we're getting rid of it," Trump said in Indianapolis.
"This deception is shameful," write the Patriotic Billionaires to Congress. "99.8% of Americans will never be subject to the tax and the two out of a thousand multi-million dollar estates that will pay the tax can clearly afford it."
The group suggests yet another name for the estate tax to more accurately reflect the families who benefit from it: the dynasty tax. They also stress that Trump himself is one of the few Americans who get a break on their taxes due to the law.
By repealing the estate tax, President Trump himself will transfer billions of dollars that currently belong to the American people directly to Donald Jr, Eric, Tiffany, Ivanka, Barron and any other heirs he may have.
Do any of you honestly believe that giving $4 billion of taxpayer money to Donald Jr, Eric, Tiffany, Ivanka, and Barron will advance the lives of hard-working Americans?
We do not.
"Some of the most successful people in our history would not have had the opportunity to be so if this country allowed the unfettered flow of wealth from one generation to the next," said Bon Haines, one of 130 signers of the letter who qualify for the estate tax. "We are, and always have been, the land of opportunity. Nothing threatens that more that the repeal of the estate tax."