WASHINGTON — Led by U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, 41 Senate Republicans today wrote to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew encouraging the Treasury Department to abandon proposed regulations that would significantly increase the estate tax burden on family farms and businesses. The proposed regulations, if finalized, would contradict long-standing legal precedent and greatly discourage families from continuing to operate and grow their farms and businesses for eventual transfer to future generations.
“Treasury should pursue policies that encourage the creation and growth of family businesses and not propose regulatory changes that make it more difficult and costly for families to transfer ownership to future generations,” the senators wrote. “We thus request that Treasury withdraw the proposed regulations and ask that any regulations that Treasury may issue in the future more directly target perceived abuses in the valuation of transferred interests in family businesses.”
In addition to Thune and Hatch, the letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
Full text of the letter:
The Honorable Jacob Lew
United States Treasury Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Secretary Lew:
We write to express our serious concerns over proposed regulations (REG-163113-02) published on August 4, 2016, under Internal Revenue Code section 2704 (“proposed regulations”) that, if finalized in their current form, will significantly increase the estate tax burden on family businesses. The proposed regulations eliminate or greatly reduce the discounts for lack of control and lack of marketability for family farms and businesses and will thus discourage families from continuing to operate and build their businesses. We ask that the proposed regulations not be finalized in their current form as they directly contradict long-standing legal precedent, create new uncertainty for taxpayers, and put family-owned businesses at a disadvantage relative to other types of businesses.
In an October 3, 2014, letter, a number of us communicated to the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service our strong opposition to any regulatory effort that would artificially inflate the valuation of estates and eliminate the benefits of estate tax relief legislation that was enacted on a bipartisan basis by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. By raising taxes on family farms and businesses, the proposed regulations represent a step back from the recently enacted permanent estate tax relief.
Treasury should pursue policies that encourage the creation and growth of family businesses and not propose regulatory changes that make it more difficult and costly for families to transfer ownership to future generations. We thus request that Treasury withdraw the proposed regulations and ask that any regulations that Treasury may issue in the future more directly target perceived abuses in the valuation of transferred interests in family businesses.