Estate Tax Speaker: Dave Eiffert

Estate Tax Speaker: Dave Eiffert

Snoqualmie, WA
Co-founder and Co-owner of Snoqualmie Falls Brewery, craft brewery and tap room

Dave Eiffert

Good morning. I’m Dave Eiffert from Snoqualmie, WA. I am here today to say I believe in progressive taxes, including the tax on large estates.  I don’t know any small business owners who are worried about the estate tax. Next time you hear someone say small business owners oppose this tax, don’t believe them. Like almost all small business owners, I do not expect to owe the estate tax if there is a $3.5 million exemption.

I co-founded the Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company in 1997 and co-own it. We produce robust ales, and have 20 employees and annual sales of $1.2 million.

I started out in a very different field. After getting a Masters in Educational Psychology, California State University, I worked in group homes for abused children.  But I‘ve always had a passion for robust beers. The brewery started as a home brewing hobby that got quite out of control. The early days were pretty frantic with the owners and one employee doing the brewing, marketing, designing, accounting, selling and delivering, all the while having full time paid positions in other businesses.

Part of the money I invested in starting the brewery was left to me as an inheritance from my parents. My parents lived in the post-war economic boom, lived simply and saved. I hope to follow their example and leave something for my son. If I’m successful, I’d be happy to pay the estate tax, even if there were a $2 million exemption.

When my parents died in 1994, the estate tax exemption was $600,000. I have always believed in progressive taxation, so while it was hard to write a large check to the IRS while executing my parents’ estate, I strongly felt was the right thing to do. And look – I still had enough money to start a business and create jobs in my community!

I’ve always supported a strong estate tax because those who will inherit the estate did not build it, and those who built it did not do so in a vacuum. A dead person cannot be taxed. The wealth their heirs will inherit can, and should be taxed. People who accumulate substantial wealth have not done so alone. They have benefited from the labor of employees and have built their businesses using public infrastructure such as clean water, ports, roads, utilities, and the internet. In view of these considerations, an estate tax is a responsibility which should be inescapable, and which people should be proud to pay.

Over the last several years I have seen a cynical and selfish move by some to view taxes as bad. In the case of opposition to the estate tax, this move is largely pushed by families who have enormous estates. They pay huge sums to spread misinformation, and use small business people as their poster children. I wonder if there is any limit where these people would feel they’d accumulated enough. In my view, repealing or cutting the estate tax is just another billionaire bailout that will line the pockets of the heirs and heiresses of multi-millionaires and billionaires.

That’s why I signed UFE’s Call to Preserve the Estate Tax. I’m urging Congress to re-establish a permanent estate tax at its 2009 level or stronger. I support the Harkin/Sanders/Whitehouse bill, and I also think the $2 million exemption in the McDermott bill makes a lot of sense. Congress should include the estate tax as part of a larger tax package addressing the Bush tax cuts and pass it before the end of the year. It’s time to get it done.