Maryland's estate tax on farmers should be repealed

January 21, 2012

Your editorial "Death and farming" (Jan. 17) claims that there are no reliable numbers about farms subjected to estate taxes. Here's one: 22,000. According to a 2010 American Family Business Foundation study by economist Adam Davies, that is the number of family farms that are currently susceptible to the nightmare of getting taxed upon a death in the family.

To add to this unfortunate dilemma, Maryland is one of just 20 states that discourage successful family businesses and farms by piling their own estate tax on top of an already burdensome federal estate tax.

Maryland's estate tax forces family farmers to pump working capital that could be used to pay employees, upgrade machinery and buy new equipment into life insurance and estate plans to protect their property from confiscation.

In fact, the revenue raised by the death tax for the federal government and the state of Maryland is tiny. For all the damage and grief it causes, it ought to be completely repealed.

Efforts to repeal state estate taxes are already underway in Nebraska, Tennessee and Oregon in order to attract family businesses, farms and jobs and to prevent them from fleeing to more tax-friendly states like Florida.

That is why we believe that Maryland ought to consider the economic benefits in repealing its estate tax completely to attract more jobs and family businesses and farms to the state, instead of scaring them away.

Dick Patten, Washington D.C.

The writer is president of the American Family Business Institute.

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