The Bloomberg story cited below on the Senate Finance Committee hearing is very thorough. We appreciate the inclusion of remarks from Eugene Sukup of Sukup Manufacturing as a modest balance to Warren Buffett’s leveling.
Eugene Sukup, founder and chairman of Sukup Manufacturing Co. told the committee today that the tax is “one of the greatest threats to our family-owned business.” In testimony prepared for the hearing, he said if he and his wife die, his sons would have to sell the Sheffield, Iowa-based company, which makes grain-handling equipment, to pay as much as $20 million in taxes.
Sukup said tax-planning strategies that minimize that liability cost his company money that otherwise would be reinvested.
Anyway, Bloomberg’s story also adds the very important context: The death tax phases out until it reaches 0 percent in 2010. If Congress does nothing, the tax kicks back in 2011 with a top rate of 55 percent.
Wonder how a wave of parricide in 2010 would affect Buffett’s predictions of plutocratic dynasty-building?
P.S. Prepared witness testimony is available here, although as of 12:45 p.m., the Committee has yet to post Buffett’s.
UPDATE (12:55 p.m.): The NAM’s Dena Battle, in attendance at the hearing, reports: “When asked whether the estate tax should be reformed for family owned businesses, Buffett recommended that businesses simply borrow to pay the tax. They could pay it back over a fifteen year period. He described the $3 million in interest annually as inconvenient. Only someone with as much money as Warren Buffett could call a $3 million interest payment to the government ‘inconvenient.'”
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