Email letters, Dec. 4, 2012

Increased death tax would suck life out of family businesses

If a parent dies before the end of this year, a small business (farm, ranch, gas field services, retailer, etc.) has a death-tax exemption of $5 million, and the highest tax rate after that exemption is 35 percent.

However, if Congress does not take action by the end of this year and a parent dies on or after Jan. 1, 2013, those same entities will only have a $1 million exemption and the highest tax rate rises to 55 percent.

Yes, $1 million does sound like a lot of money to many of us but in today’s world it does not take much land, buildings, and/or equipment to meet that cap. Many farms and ranches here on the Western Slope are “land rich” and “cash poor,” so a $1 million tax exemption would likely require the family to sell so many of the assets to pay the taxes that the family operation would not be able to continue to operate. In these situations the land is subdivided and a great deal of our “open space” that we all enjoy and the wildlife depends upon is lost.

To understand the significance of this issue, let’s assume one of these small businesses is worth $3 million in 2013 and the father plans to pass that business on to his two kids who have been working in the business for many years. Because the death tax exemption would be only $1 million, the kids would be faced with having to pay 55 percent on the remainder of the value, which is the $2 million. That would amount to $1.1 million.

In most cases, the kids would be forced to sell one-third of their assets to pay that debt to the government. These types of businesses typically have at least several employees so those employees would also lose their jobs if the kids lose the business due to the death tax. This death tax is on top of all the tax that has already been paid on the inputs and profit over the years as they built up the value of the business.

I have to wonder what the government has done to deserve that kind of payoff just because a U.S. citizen died. It seems like a double taxation to me.

So, as Congress focuses on tax issues in this lame-duck session, it is critical that they take action to continue the current estate tax exemption of $5 million with a maximum 35 percent tax on any value above that.

I hope that Sen. Bennet and Sen. Udall care enough about the families who have developed these businesses to see to it that the Senate acts before the end of 2012 and that they both vote to continue the tax exemption as it stands today.

This is the only opportunity Colorado families have to survive the transferring of their business to their kids. We then can all continue to enjoy the “open space,” wildlife will continue to have good habitat, Western Slope residents will have good jobs, and hard working families can continue to support their families and hand it down from generation to generation.

CALLIE HENRICKSON
Grand Junction

Nation needs real spending cuts, not just reduction in spending growth

The people that are pictured in the Daily Sentinel and like Scott Beilfuss who claim they want Congressman Scott Tipton to fight for the middle class are not the people that put Tipton in office. There is no doubt in my mind that most of them voted for his opponent.

First, let’s clear up some erroneous statements made by Beilfuss. The Republican-led House of Representatives passed a budget on April 14, 2011, and one on March 29. It has been the Democratic-led Senate that has refused to vote on either of those budgets, so perhaps Beilfuss should be contacting Sens. Bennett and Udall.

Second, according to Owebama and the Democrats, raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires is going to increase revenues to the government about $2 trillion over the next 10 years, or about $200 billion each year.

This, of course, assumes that the millionaires and billionaires don’t find ways around the new taxes and the government ends up with less money as the millionaires and billionaires find more favorable places in which to do business.

This year the national debt increased by more than $1.4 trillion. Trillion-dollar-plus yearly deficits are projected for at least the next four years with China and Russia, and oil importers now carrying a lot of our more than $16 trillion debt. Even if the $200 billion does come into the treasury, obviously we are a long way from balancing the budget. We don’t have a revenue problem in this country but a spending problem.

I would just a soon go over the cliff now if we can’t get any real reduction in spending, not a reduction in the growth of spending, but real cuts. Otherwise, we are all going to be hurt by this unsustainable debt and also be held hostage by other countries that may not have our best interest at heart.

If Beilfuss and the group want to call anyone, perhaps they should call the person they elected to lead this country and ask him not vote present but tell us how he plans to balance the budget.

MICHAEL HIGGINS
Grand Junction
 
Environmental left’s decrying of Hall Bill impedes research

The hypocrisy and confusion of the environmental left never cease to amaze me. The people who are up in arms over H.R. 6603 (the bill being introduced in Congress by Texas Rep. Ralph Hall to fund oil shale research), denouncing it as a “subsidy,” are the same ones who cry long and loud for tax credits and other subsidies to the solar and wind industries.

The difference is that the money asked for in Hall’s bill would not go to any individual company, but would rather be used the same way that money for space exploration (i.e., the formerly great NASA) or disease control (i.e., the CDC) is used—for research. The giveaways to wind and solar are just that—handouts to individual companies that cannot make a go of it on their own.

Oil shale opponents such as Jim Spehar say that oil shale is “unviable” and that “more research is needed” before we can let companies risk their own time and capital trying to develop it, but they will not support leasing the land for these private companies to conduct such research. And now they will not support a plan for the federal government to do the research either.

It’s time for environmentalist liberals to be honest about their intentions and objectives, and admit that they are not interested in “all the above” approaches to energy policy or substantive research into oil shale, like most of the American public is. Let them be honest about their ideas and see how those ideas play out with middle-class families and voters who will be forced to pay higher fuel prices and endure more frequent shortages and burnouts.

JAMES “JJ” FLETCHER

Palisade

City council can reach goals without over-taxing

In regard to Amy Hamilton’s “to do list” article in Monday’s paper, what part of TABOR do she and the city council not understand? This was passed so when the government over-taxes, money is returned to those who overpaid.

To say that nine of the top 10 are out-of-state is irrelevant. What about all the small-business owners in this community who have also been overtaxed? Should they not get their hard-earned dollars back?

Toward the end of her article, she points out the mindset of our tax-and-spend government. If we pay off the Riverside Parkway Project early, the council is worried it would have to give the excess taxes back.

I would plead to the voters of Grand Junction to think of the not-too-distant past when we were told we had to pass a tax increase to upgrade our library and police station. Both have been done without passage of another tax.

BRAD CLASS
Grand Junction

Civil discourse impossible in atmosphere of animosity

Yes, Democrats in Mesa County are outnumbered three to one. The Sentinel noted, “left leaning progressives oftentimes are reticent to show their politics for fear of retribution.”

I am a Democrat who was a registered Republican for many years. I withdrew my registration because I reject the hard sell that the Republican Party is the only party that represents God-fearing men and women, patriots, honest, hard-working individuals with strong family values and those of Christian faith

If we accept that rhetoric, the foregone conclusion is Democrats and independents are not patriotic, have poor values and work ethics, and do not love God. The truth is that we cannot have civil discourse about the future of our beloved country in an atmosphere of animosity and name-calling (i.e., bleeding heart liberals or worse.)

I am educated and informed, and I am a Christian. I shall continue to vote for the candidate I believe will best serve our country, and I will not be bullied into “party-line, lock-step-voting.” I will fight for all of my Constitutional rights, including freedom of speech.

We are blessed to live in a country that allows all of us to express our beliefs. I may be fed up with all politicians at this point, but I respect all Republicans, Democrats and independents who get up every day and do their best. God help us all.

SHIRL MCGUIRE-BELDEN
Grand Junction

Fiscally prudent citizens should scrutinize DOE’s entire budget

Some press accounts have cited sources that call the Hall Bill (H.R. 6603) an oil shale subsidy. It is not. Oil shale firms will not receive this funding.

This funding is for research by government agencies—principally the Department of Energy—to establish independent, baseline environmental information such as water supply and quality impacts for which the public and conservation groups are clamoring.

DOE and other agencies are receiving funding to conduct research into other energy sources, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. At DOE the 2013 budget request is $2.3 billion for the latter program—up by 29 percent from the 2012 expected expenditures. 

This dwarfs the $10 million/year in the Hall Bill. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized this research, which the DOE is ignoring, thus requiring a special congressional bill. Whether any of the discretionary portions of the DOE budget are justified is debatable, but I hope cost-conscious citizens will look beyond going only after oil shale and critique the DOE budget as a whole. 

DOE was established to move the nation in the direction of energy independence. From my vantage point, it is doing little to advance that important goal. 

GLENN VAWTER
Glenwood Springs



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