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Small Business, Farm Leaders Join Americans for Prosperity-Maine to Support Governor’s Death Tax Cuts

March 30, 2011 J

AUGUSTA – Americans for Prosperity-Maine (AFP) was joined by business and farm leaders at a press conference in Augusta on Friday to urge members of the Maine Legislature to support Governor Paul LePage’s budget proposal to increase the exemption in Maine’s Death Tax.

The Death Tax is a taxed levied on the value of an individual’s assets after they die. For family-owned farms and businesses, this represents a punitive burden that jeopardizes the ability of a mourning family. Currently in Maine, the exemption is $1 million in assets. Governor LePage’s budget proposes to increase that amount to $2 million. The federal Death Tax exemption is now $5 million.

AFP-Maine State Director Carol Weston was joined by James Cote, President and CEO of Maine Associated Builders and Contractors; Dan Beck, owner of Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro; and State Representative Jeff Timberlake, eighth-generation owner of a family farm in Turner, to support the Governor’s proposal to increase the Death Tax exemption.

Mourning families facing Maine’s significant Death Tax have often spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to restructure their family business, or have had to sell the business outright just to pay Death Taxes to the state.

“If the head of a business passes, our unreasonable estate tax could force a mourning family to sell that business, which may have been in the family for generations, just to pay Death Taxes to the government. That is not just poor fiscal policy, it’s immoral, and it must end,” Weston said.

Critics of small business tax relief have labeled death tax relief as tax cuts for the wealthy—a claim that is simply untrue.

“Are the parents and children running a family-owned business or farm part of the super-rich?,” Weston asked. “Their land and equipment may put the value of their assets at more than $1 million, but we all know that family works hard every day to keep the business running while earning enough to stay afloat.”

At the event, Moody’s Diner owner Dan Beck expressed concern that Maine’s current death tax exemption could make it difficult to keep the business in the family.
“The Moody Family is not among the wealthiest in the state of Maine,” Beck said. “By increasing the Death Tax exemption from one million to two million, the elected officials of the state of Maine would help protect and ensure the future success of my family business and of countless other small, family-owned Maine businesses, and the jobs they provide. I encourage those who have the power to effect this change to do the right thing.”
The proposal to increase the Death Tax exemption is now being considered by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Rosen, of Bucksport, with input from the Legislature’s Taxation Committee, chaired by Senator Dave Trahan, of Waldoboro. To urge the Chairs to support the Governor’s proposal to cut Death Taxes, call 207-287-1505.

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