As the GOP continues to extol the virtues of the tax cut bill, one Republican has explained in no uncertain terms why the rich deserve tax breaks on estate taxes — and why average Americans do not.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told his hometown Des Moines Register the estate tax, aka the “death tax,” is actually an obstacle against responsible saving — which, apparently, only millionaires do.
“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing — as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” the Iowa senator said Saturday.
The estate tax is levied only on wealthy individuals who pass on assets valued above $5.5 million or $11 million for married couples, upon their time of death. The current estate tax rate is 40 percent.
Republicans, many of whom themselves are millionaires, have fought against the provision. They were victorious when the tax bill passed on Saturday. The Senate’s version expands the individual exemption from $5.5 million to $11 million and to $22 million for a couple. The House version of the bill would eliminate the estate tax in its entirety in 2024. That’s one difference in the two bills that will need to be reconciled as the law moves forward.
In Grassley’s state, Iowa, the estate tax is particularly fraught with controversy. Republicans argue the 40 percent tax creates an inhibitive situation for farmers who hope to pass on their farms to heirs.
“Death should not be a taxable event and families should not have to fear the Internal Revenue Service and more taxes making it more difficult and costly to pass on the farm or family business to the next generation,” Rep. David Young, a Des Moines-area congressman, wrote in a newsletter to constituents.
Grassely also sees the tax reform as a way of rewarding people who have accumulated millions, by what he says is “investing.”
However, the Des Moines Register reports that only a few families end up paying the estate tax. Only 32 out of 1.4 million Iowans owed estate tax in 2012 because almost all estates fell under the current exemption cap. Only a tiny fraction of those taxpayers were farmers or small business owners.
Currently only 0.2 percent of Americans pay estate tax and will benefit from the reforms.
Grassley’s comment was hit by a wave of criticism from social media users who thought it was a good idea to educate the senator on what average Americans spend their money on.
You forgot those that are "spending every darn penny" on raising their kids and giving them a decent education.— Patricia Farrell (@drpatfarrell) December 3, 2017
Indeed. The Hunger Games is starting to look like a Best Case Scenario.— Nancy (@planetscape) December 3, 2017
This is the GOP belief system; They believe that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules should be wealthy, and those that do not achieve wealth are lazy, alcoholics and drug addicts.— Maurice Ross (@MauriceMichael) December 3, 2017
He's a pleasant man, isn't he? I spend every penny I make and it sure isn't on women, booze or movies. Fun stuff like electricity, house payment, insurance, etc. etc. What the hell? I guess the rich don't drink, date or go to movies? That must be how they got rich! Wow!— Madlyn Stewart (@MadlynStewart1) December 3, 2017
No the rich get rich by stealing from the poor!— John Harmer (@DeltaRambler) December 3, 2017