Enemies of the Estate Tax Assemble
by Gary Therkildsen*, 1/14/2010
With the estate tax down and out for the time being, groups that for decades have sought to repeal the tax are gathering to make a push in Congress to keep the estate tax from coming back. In a recent online piece, John McKinnon of the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper whose editorial board never saw a tax repeal proposal that it didn’t like, wrote a short profile on the "small business group" the American Family Business Institute (AFBI), which McKinnon describes as currently waging an “all-out campaign for a permanent repeal.”
Of course, calling AFBI a small business group is like calling Wal-Mart a mom and pop store. AFBI, which anti-estate tax crusader and Alabama tax attorney Harold Apolinksy founded in 1992 with the sole purpose of killing the estate tax, uses misleading information in an attempt to line the pockets of the wealthiest of the wealthy in America. And their shameful tactics, as McKinnon states, helped secure a major victory in 2001 "when the Republican-run Congress passed a tax bill including gradual reduction of the estate tax, followed by a one-year repeal for 2010."
Now that the Democratic-controlled Congress has unexpectedly let the estate tax lapse into repeal, AFBI wants permanent repeal and nothing less. In October, when the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, another supposedly "small-business-minded" group that includes such industry heavyweights as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufactures, abandoned their long-standing campaign to repeal the estate tax, AFBI castigated them for "seeking compromise over victory." If AFBI is anything, they're consistent.
Despite their use of discredited arguments, such as how elimination of the estate tax would spur job growth, AFBI and other anti-estate tax groups will likely strike a chord with Republicans and conservative Democrats that incorrectly insist that ending the estate tax will help family farms and small businesses. The question is will AFBI and others win over enough legislators in both houses to extend repeal of the estate tax permanently?
Image by Flickr user Daniel Y. Go used under a Creative Commons license.