House Republicans pressure leaders to repeal estate tax in conference tax bill

Dozens of House Republicans will pressure their leadership Thursday morning to ensure a repeal of the estate tax stays in the final tax reform bill, since the Senate’s version of the bill would not repeal it.

Fifty-three GOP representatives will tell House Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady to “seek an agreement in conference that achieves repeal of the hated and economically destructive death tax.”

In the letter organized by Ohio’s Warren Davidson to be sent Thursday afternoon, the group noted that repeal of the “death tax” has been a conservative goal for 40 years and is now closer than ever. The letter was signed by House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and Republican Study Committee chairman Mark Walker, also of North Carolina.

The Republicans argued that the tax reform framework agreed to by President Trump and House and Senate leaders had promised estate tax repeal. The Senate bill would double the estate tax exemption through 2025, but would not repeal it, one of the few departures by either chamber from the framework.

While there is support for repealing the tax among Republicans in both chambers, doing so would requiring scaling back other tax cuts and endangering the votes of a few GOP senators.

“We are, again, in a revenue squeeze,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in discussing the estate tax in a CNBC interview Wednesday. The Senate’s treatment of the estate tax is “probably” where the conference will end up, he added.

Republicans limited the total net tax cut to $1.5 trillion over 10 years through budget rules. The Senate version of repeal of the estate and gift taxes would cost the Treasury $83 billion over that timeframe, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation. The House version would total $151 billion. The $68 billion difference helped senators pay for lower tax rates, a state and local property tax deduction, bigger child tax credits, and more.

In 2018, the estate tax will only kick in for bequests larger than $11 million for married couples under currently law, meaning that it affects only a several thousand families.

In both the House and Senate bills, that exemption would double to $22 million immediately. Then, in 2024, it would go away entirely in the House bill.

Republicans have long promised small business and ranchers’ groups that they will support repeal. In 2015, the House voted to repeal the estate tax, through a bill sponsored by Brady. He is now the chairman of the conference committee, in addition to heading the Ways and Means Committee. This year, standalone repeal bills have been introduced by South Dakota’s Republican Representative, Kristi Noem, and one of its senators, John Thune. Both Noem and Thune are members of the conference committee.

“Family businesses are counting on Senator Thune and Congresswoman Noem to lead the charge in negotiating a better death tax deal in conference,” said Palmer Schoening, chairman of the Family Business Coalition. “This letter signed by a huge block of House conservatives gives them even more reason to push hard for repeal.”

“I’d like to see full repeal of the death tax, the Senate’s got a different take on it,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said in a Fox Business interview.

This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner


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