We’ve all heard the stories of family farmers and mom-and-pop stores who make for great news interviews when it comes to opposing the estate tax. But a report suggests that the real force behind estate tax repeal may be a group of ultra-wealth billionaires who stand to gain far more than any small family business owner.

President Obama has already stated that he will veto any estate tax repeal, the Senate has declined to visit the issue and earlier in 2015, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the federal estate tax. The bill has little chance of becoming law anytime soon.

None of which has stopped some politicians from continuing to call for repeal. The image of hard working family farms and small businesses continue to be used to suggest that the tax has adverse effects on hardworking Americans. The truth of those claims depends on how you define “family farm” and “small businesses.” Regardless of which side of the aisle they call home, these iconic images of American success are vague and undefined.

Interestingly, however, is a new report from Public Citizen that suggests the drive to repeal the estate tax is actually coming from a few extremely wealthy families who spend millions of dollars a year lobbying to repeal the estate tax. One reason that they do so is because they collectively would gain nearly $25 billion if the estate tax goes away. The Hill reported on this story in “Who is behind the push to repeal the estate tax?

A report that it is actually billionaires who wish to have the estate tax repealed, however, does not necessarily mean that it should not be repealed. Depending on your point of view, these wealthy families are either acting out of despicable self-interest or they are performing an admirable public service.

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Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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