North Carolina state legislators are justifiably examining repeal of the state’s inheritance tax — which soaks people who inherit items from their parents or grandparents. Right now, the tax hits inheritances of $5 million or more. In 2013, that threshold drops to $1 million. Conservatives argue that an inheritance worth $1 million could be something as simple as a family farm, a small restaurant, or a mom-and-pop store. They argue that Democrats, in their soak-the-rich frenzy, are hurting a lot of small businesspeople and their families. Democrats rebuff that argument, claiming the estate tax rightly forces people in the Rockefeller tax bracket pay their “fair share.”
Earlier today I had the opportunity to make a brief presentation to the Revenue Laws Committee, to make a few comments supporting the repeal of North Carolina’s death tax.
Included in the presentation were a number of points, including:
- With the exemption dropping from $5 million to $1 million, many more small businesses and family farms will be impacted by the tax
- The revenue raised by the estate tax represents less than one percent of the overall state budget, and when factoring federal dollars that come to the state, the amount is an almost immeasurably tiny fraction
- North Carolinians strongly oppose the state estate tax, by more than a 2.5 to 1 margin
Also, at the close of my presentation, I played this video (prepared by my colleague Matt Willoughby) which tells the story of two families that own farms and fear that the estate tax threatens their ability to keep the farm in the family for future generations.
Interestingly, having to listen to the genuine concerns of real citizens was too much for Rep. Paul Luebke (D-Durham) to stomach. Apparently offended by the plight of regular folks he considers beneath him, Luebke demanded five minutes to vent his frustrations.
Luebke began his comments with a lie. He claimed that our video was 6 or 7 minutes in length (as opposed to the 2 or 3 minutes I mentioned when setting up the video) – the actual length of the video is 3:14.
Then he angrily insisted that if we wanted to make a video truly representing families impacted by the death tax, we should have made a video of Mitt Romney’s family. You see, Luebke simply can not come to grips with the fact that hard-working small business owners and farmers can quite easily acquire $1 million or more in assets. He needs to believe in the fairy tale that the death tax would only impact mega-rich corporate tycoons. Luebke then oddly went on for a couple minutes defending Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
Luebke’s beligerent response teaches us a valuable lesson. The left feels they have a monopoly on presenting the stories of individuals affected by public policy. How many times do they trot out seniors or a group of children and use them as props to garner sympathy for their latest taxpayer-funded vote-buying scheme. But big government means less freedom, and real people are impacted by this loss of freedom. Look at the outcry over the little girl in Hoke county who had her lunch inspected. Look at how Paul Luebke couldn’t bear to hear the story of farmers worried about losing their family farm because the government will take their assets when they die.
Those of us advocating for greater individual freedom need to tell more stories about real people hurt by the growing government leviathan. The left does not know how to react.