State Legislators’ Message to Congress: Kill the ‘Death Tax’

Dear Members of Congress,

The federal estate tax—also known as the “death tax”— is destructive to entrepreneurship, job creation  and economic growth. In many instances, heirs must sell family businesses, farms and ranches, just to pay this unfair double tax. The death tax is so problematic from a policy perspective that many states  have repealed their state-level death taxes in recent years, with Delaware becoming the most recent  during the 2017 legislative session. Only 17 states still levy the tax.

Despite this whirlwind of economic havoc—including egregious compliance costs and administrative costs—the death tax generates only a minimal amount of revenue for the federal government. In 2016, estate and gift taxes generated just $21.4 billion of the $3.27 trillion of federal revenue, less than 66 cents of every $100.

A plethora of academic analysis corroborates painful anecdotes in identifying the death tax as destructive to job opportunity and expansion, especially to family farmers and entrepreneurs. The ensuing tax bill after losing a loved one imposes a severe hardship on many family businesses and family farming operations. Often, family members are forced to partially or completely liquidate these businesses which may have taken generations to build. In addition to the calamity on these families, state and local governments are often deprived of an important ongoing source of revenue from these businesses—all in order to pad the federal coffers by a fraction of one percent. State and local primary and secondary education centers – along with churches and numerous other charitable activities – would greatly benefit from the increased employment and continued family business leadership provided by these stunted firms.

With these facts in mind, it’s no surprise that a strong majority of Americans consistently find the death tax to be the “most unfair” of all taxes and therefore favor total repeal of the tax.



Senator Debbie Lesko

Representative John Allen

Representative Ben Toma

Representative David Cook

Representative Paul Mosley

Representative Don Shooter

Representative David Stringer

Representative Beck Nutt

Representative Bob Thorpe


Representative Karilyn Brown


Senator Joel Anderson

Assemblyman Matthew Harper


Senator Kevin Grantham

Senator Randy Baumgardner


Representative John Piscopo


Representative Matt Dollar


Senator Steve Vick


Representative David Reis


Senator Jim Buck

Senator Victoria Spartz

Representative David Frizzell

Representative Dave Wolkins

Representative Woody Burton

Representative Heath VanNatter


Speaker Linda Upmeyer

Representative Dawn Pettengill

Representative Chip Baltimore


Senator Ty Masterson

Representative John Baker

Representative Rander Garber


Senator Andre Cushing


Senator Gail Bates

Delegate Susan Krebs

Delegate Kathy Szeliga


Senator Mary Kiffmeyer

Senator Roger Chamberlain

Representative Jerry Hertaus


Speaker Philip Gunn

Senator Josh Harkins

Representative Dan Eubanks


Senator Ed Emery

Senator Wayne Wallingford

Senator Andrew Koenig

Representative Donna Lichtenegger

Representative Justin Hill


Senator Jim Smith

New Hampshire

Senator Gary Daniels

Senator Harold French

Representative Ken Weyler

Representative Gregory Hill

Representative Mariellen MacKay

New Mexico

Representative Yvette Herrell

North Carolina

Senator David Custis

Representative Jason Saine

Representative Kyle Hall

Representative Larry Yarborough

Representative Susan Martin

North Dakota

Senator Janne Myrdal

Representative Bernie Satrom

Representative Andrew Marshall

Representative Dan Ruby

Representative Matthew Ruby


Senator Louis Terhar

Senator Bill Coley

Representative Andy Thompson

Representative Dick Stein


Senator Julie Daniels


Senator Kim Thatcher

Senator Fred Girod


Senator Rich Alloway

Representative Brian Ellis

Representative Seth Grove

South Carolina

Senator Rex Rice

Representative Alan Clemmons

Representative Garry Smith

South Dakota

Senator Jim Stalzer

Representative Al Novstrup

Representative Lynne DiSanto

Representative Steve Haugaard

Representative Lesley Heinemann


Senator Brian Kelsey

Senator Ed Jackson

Senator Bill Ketron

Representative Jimmy Eldridge

Representative Martin Daniel

Representative Patsy Hazelwood


Representative Phil King

Representative Phil Stephenson

Representative Tony Dale

Representative Charles “Doc” Anderson

Representative Ed Thompson


Senator Wayne Niederhauser

Senator Lincoln Fillmore

Senator J. Stuart Adams

Senator Ann Millner

Representative Kim Coleman

Representative Kay Christofferson

Representative Logan Wilde


Delegate Kathy Byron

Councilman Jon Russell


Representative Luanne VanWerven

Representative Mary Dye

Representative Joe Schmick

West Virginia

Senator Mark Mayvard

Senator Patricia Rucker

Delegate Gary Howell


Representative Kathleen Bernier

Representative Dan Kroll

Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt

Representative Rob Swearingen

Representative Mike Kuglitsch

Representative Tyler Vorpager

Representative Ken Skowronski


Representative Dan Laursen

Representative Bunky Loucks

ALEC Action is the 501(c)4 affiliate of the American Legislative Exchange Council.