Gates, Sr. Joins Nat'l Farmers Union to Demand Estate Tax Reform

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2003
Contact: dmartin@FairEconomy.org">David Martin (617) 423-2148 x119

Bill Gates, Sr. Joins the National Farmers Union to Demand Reform of the Estate Tax, Not Repeal

Anaheim, CA - Two weeks after Republican Congressional leaders announced that permanent repeal of the estate tax was one of their top 10 legislative priorities, Bill Gates, Sr. called for the reform of the estate tax, not repeal, as the keynote speaker at the 101st Anniversary Convention of the National Farmers Union (NFU). The NFU represents nearly 300,000 farming and ranching families across the United States.

Mr. Gates, co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and co-author of the new book, Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes (Beacon Press, January 2003), said, “Repealing the estate tax on the largest estates would endanger family farms in the U.S. Without an estate tax, giant corporate farms will simply get larger and larger at the expense of family farms. We should reform and simplify the estate tax to enable family farmers to better survive the growing pressures from big agribusiness."

NFU President Dave Frederickson said, “The Farmers Union is supportive of efforts to provide realistic and meaningful estate tax reform that benefits family farmers and ranchers, but does not contribute to the continuing concentration of ownership and control of the food system.”

In 2001, Mr. Gates was the lead signer on Responsible Wealth’s Call to Preserve the Estate Tax, which was signed by over 1,000 wealthy people personally affected by the estate tax. Lee Farris, a spokesperson for Responsible Wealth, said, “The super-wealthy proponents of repeal have thwarted repeated reform efforts in an ”˜all or nothing’ bid for complete elimination of the estate tax. In effect, by preventing reform, the super-wealthy are holding family farmers hostage for political gain. Today, Mr. Gates and the National Farmers Union joined forces to put an end to this game.”

Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, is a national network of businesspeople, investors, affluent Americans, and family farmers, who are concerned about deepening economic inequality and are working for widespread prosperity. Bill Gates, Sr. works on reforming the estate tax as a member of Responsible Wealth.

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