Estate Tax Speaker: Jean Gordon

Estate Tax Speaker: Jean Gordon

Little Rock, AR
Co-owner of Frostyaire of Arkansas, agricultural freezing and cold storage company

Jean Gordon

Good morning. I’m Jean Gordon. As a small business owner, I am one of the 99.7% of Americans who will not pay any estate tax if there is a $3.5 million exemption.

I’m 84 years old, I live in Little Rock and am co-owner of a family business, Frostyaire of Arkansas, with cold storage food freezers in Batesville and Maumelle, that has been owned and run by my family since 1950. Frostyaire quick freezes and stores food, primarily chicken, for food processors and wholesale and retail food businesses. We employ about 45 people.

Frostyaire was bought by my Dad, then managed by my brother, and after he died, by his sons and grandson. When I die, I will leave the business to my daughter and son.

Since the recession, my Frostyaire income has dropped by two thirds, after two of our largest customers went bankrupt last year. The recession also impacted Juanita’s Restaurant in Little Rock, which I co-owned until we sold it recently.

With these business losses, I do not expect to pay an estate tax at the 2009 level. If Frostyaire becomes more profitable again, I would be happy to pay the tax as my family’s contribution for being part of the American economy. My family members agree with me. We don’t like being used as poster children for the extremely wealthy people who want to repeal or cut the estate tax. Frostyaire’s success depends on government investments like good public schools that give us well-educated employees, and good highways so our customers can ship food.

At Frostyaire, our decisions about hiring employees, purchasing equipment, and expanding the business are not based on tax policy but on the number of customers and the amount of product they have to store with us. We hire employees based on the need and the prospect of a fair rate of return. I think our customers who freeze with us use the same criteria.

The best way to help small businesses like ours is to put more money in the hands of the middle class who will spend the money as customers of our businesses, rather than cutting the estate tax to ensure that very wealthy heirs can have a larger inheritance.

I have served on the local school board and on the board of a rural community center, and I know many poor people who work very hard for little return. Compared to them, I’ve been fortunate to live a very privileged life. I want to make sure that they have access to the means to get ahead, including government funded business loans and college loans.

I urge Congress to vote for a tax at least as strong as it was in 2009; I would like Congress to pass something like the Harkin/Sanders/Whitehouse proposal or McDermott proposals. I agree with UFE and signed its Call to Preserve the Estate tax. I support a strong estate tax because the very wealthy in this country have the most disposable income and have benefited the most from living in a country where they could accumulate wealth. They should be willing to pay their fair share for the benefits they have received from the government and the infrastructure that supports them. It’s not good for the country to have such a huge gap between the rich and the poor like we have now. It’s hard to remain a true democracy when a few families have so much wealth and power – especially when money plays such a huge part in the political process.  

Thank you.