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Ernst Joins Effort to Permanently Repeal the Death Tax

Senator Ernst is the Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, joined Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), and 40 of her Senate colleagues, in reintroducing legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, more commonly known as the death tax or inheritance tax. The Death Tax Repeal Act would end this purely punitive tax that has the potential to hit family-run farms and small businesses as the result of the owner’s death.


In 2021, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation to phase out the state inheritance tax over the course of four years.


“Families who run a farm operation or small business should not have to fear the potential loss of their livelihood as they grieve their loved one. Our effort gets rid of an egregious tax law that could wipe out generations of hard work and entrepreneurship,” said Senator Ernst.  


“Agriculture is the backbone of South Dakota’s economy,” said Senator Thune. “For years I have fought to protect farm and ranch families from the onerous and unfair death tax. Family-owned farms and ranches often bear the brunt of this tax, which makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations. I will continue to do everything in my power to remove these roadblocks for family businesses and repeal the death tax once and for all.”


“No cattle producer should ever be forced to sell their family’s farm or ranch to pay a tax bill due to the death of a family member,” said Todd Wilkinson, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Repealing the death tax is a commonsense way to keep the farm or ranch in the family. As a land-based, capital-intensive industry, most cattle producing families are asset-rich and cash-poor, with few options to pay off tax liabilities. It is unacceptable that some families are forced to sell off land, farm equipment, parts of the operation, or the entire ranch to pay the estate tax. We need a tax code that promotes the continuation of family-owned businesses instead of breaking them up.”


The bill is supported by more than 150 members of the Family Business Coalition and 111 members of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, which includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Policy and Taxation Group, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Manufacturers, and many others.