For Immediate Release: March 29, 2012
- Tim Sullivan, United for a Fair Economy, (617) 423-2148 x127, [email protected]
- Brian Gumm, OMB Watch, (202) 683-4812, [email protected]
Americans for a Fair Estate Tax Coalition
Urges Congress to Restore Strong Estate Tax
Washington, DC – Americans for a Fair Estate Tax (AFET), a coalition of dozens of national and state organizations, announced today that it sent a letter to all members of the House and Senate calling on Congress to boost revenue and address growing inequality by supporting the Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2011.
The Sensible Estate Tax Act, H.R. 3467, will restore the estate tax to Clinton-era levels, which will then be indexed to inflation. The bill provides a $1.3 million tax-free exemption ($2.6 million for married couples), with graduated rates up to a maximum marginal rate of 55 percent. This exemption would shield about 99 percent of Americans from the tax and would continue to be adjusted for inflation in the future.
AFET members stated if Congress does not pass the Sensible Estate Tax Act, the best alternative would be to let the current estate tax rules lapse and allow the pre-2001 rules to return in 2013, as scheduled under current law. In this scenario, an individual would be able to pass on $1 million tax-free, and a married couple could pass on up to $2 million tax-free.
Among the 77 organizations signing the letter are groups with national memberships such as YWCA and USAction, philanthropic groups including the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy, and labor groups, including AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and SEIU.
Lee Farris, Estate Tax Policy Coordinator of United for a Fair Economy and AFET steering committee member, said, “Instead of cutting Social Security, Medicare, and other programs that help low- and middle-income people, our elected leaders in Congress should support the Sensible Estate Tax Act. H.R. 3467 would bring in substantial revenue from those who can best afford it, the estates of millionaires and billionaires, and at the same time reduce economic inequality by restoring our nation’s most effective curb on inherited wealth.”
Katherine McFate, president of OMB Watch, said, "The accumulation of inherited wealth is one source of the historically high levels of inequality that exist in America today." She continued, "The estate tax was put in place to prevent wealth from becoming too concentrated. A vigorous estate tax keeps inequality in check and raises revenue for necessary public investments. The families who have benefited the most from the American economic system should support the public structures that help create opportunity for future generations."
Charles Loveless, AFSCME's Director of Federal Government Affairs, said, “The wealthiest one percent of taxpayers should pay their fair share of taxes. We need a strong estate tax so we don’t have to cut the public investments that create prosperity for everyone.”
The letter also states that:
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that federal estate and gift taxes will generate $516 billion in revenue from 2013 through 2022, assuming that the 2010 estate and gift tax cut expires as scheduled at the end of 2012.
- Other policy options would be fiscally irresponsible. CBO found that extending the estate tax reduction in effect for 2011 and 2012, which increased the estate tax exemption to $5 million per spouse and reduces the top estate tax rate to 35 percent, would cost $432 billion over the following decade.
- Existing tax breaks would continue to protect small businesses and farms under either the pre-2001 rules or the Sensible Estate Tax Act. A CBO analysis found that only 0.3 percent of taxable estates were either family held-business estates or estates of farmers and lacked sufficient liquid assets (like cash, stocks, and bonds) to pay the estate tax. That’s why opponents of the estate tax have not been able to find a single farm that had to be sold to pay the tax.
The Sensible Estate Tax Act would also make important reforms that reunify the gift and estate tax exclusions; make permanent the portability of the exemption for spouses; restore the state credit to provide critical revenue for states without increasing taxes; close loopholes in the asset valuation and minority discount rules; among a number of other reforms.
To speak to one of the thousands of people across the U.S. whose families have paid or expect to pay the estate tax and support a return to higher estate tax levels, contact United for a Fair Economy.
The complete text of the AFET letter is available at: www.ombwatch.org/files/budget/EstateTax/AFET_SETA_House_Senate_Letters.pdf
Americans For a Fair Estate Tax is a coalition of nonprofit organizations and others from around the country, representing a wide cross-section of America, and includes civic, labor, social justice, faith-based, environmental, and human services groups. The coalition is dedicated to preserving the estate tax as a valuable part of the progressive U.S. tax system.
United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Boston, MA, which advocates for progressive economic and tax policies. More at www.FairEconomy.org.
OMB Watch is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting government accountability and effectiveness and increasing citizen engagement. Learn more at www.ombwatch.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 13, 2012
Conservative Business Icons'
"Self-Made" Claims Challenged
Authors of New Book Debunk Myth of Self-Made Success
Boston, MA: In a new book released this month, United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth urge a more honest national dialogue about what makes wealth and success possible, and in doing so, a healthier debate about the public policy choices before us.
The Self-Made Myth—And the Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed, by United for a Fair Economy executive director Brian Miller and Responsible Wealth project director Mike Lapham, exposes the false claim that business success is solely the result of the heroic effort of a single individual. The authors contend that, among other supports, businesses are built atop public structures and services established and maintained by taxpayers’ collective investments made through government. As such, those who have benefitted the most from those public supports owe something back to the society that made them possible.
“Debunking the self-made myth is critical, particularly during an election year when taxes and the role of government are center-stage,” says Brian Miller. “We wrote this book because how we view wealth creation and individual success shapes our choices on policies, including taxes, regulations, public investments in schools and infrastructure, CEO pay, and more.”
Since the Reagan presidency, those involved in the broader conservative movement have based their anti-tax efforts on the notion that wealth is derived from the superior efforts of “job creators.” This frame fuels an anti-government and anti-tax narrative that the authors say is counter-productive to the kinds of investments we need to make to get our nation’s economy back on track.
“Members of Responsible Wealth, including some of the business owners profiled in our book, understand that there’s a lot more working in their favor than smarts, creativity or hard work,” says Mike Lapham. “They believe they owe a chunk of their good fortune to government investments in education, research, infrastructure and a regulatory system that have created a fertile business environment.”
The co-authors of The Self-Made Myth add that social relations can also provide an economic boost. “We hear these icons of business success—Donald Trump, Ross Perot, and the Koch brothers, for example—tout themselves as ‘self-made,’” said Miller. “But their failure to acknowledge the role of luck, privilege and even government is misleading and dishonest.”
The Self-Made Myth book tour launched last week, fittingly at a public institution of learning, the Boston Public Library. Miller and Lapham will be joined in select cities by individuals profiled in the book.
United for a Fair Economy (UFE) is a national organization working to close the growing income and wealth divides in the U.S. Responsible Wealth, a project of UFE, is a network of over 700 business leaders, high-wealth and upper-income advocates of progressive tax policies and corporate accountability. Learn more about The Self-Made Myth at www.selfmademyth.org.
Contact: Maz Ali, [email protected], 617-423-2148 x101
Racial Economic Inequalities Likely to Persist
United for a Fair Economy Releases MLK Day report,
State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority
Download the report at http://www.faireconomy.org/dream. Co-authors of the report and partnering racial justice advocates are available for interview.
United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to raise public awareness of the destructive effects of concentrated wealth and power and supporting the movement for greater economic equality. Learn more at http://www.faireconomy.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 15, 2011
Contact: Maz Ali, 617-423-2148 x101, [email protected]
Wealthy Taxpayers Say, 'Tax Us More,' in Open Letter to Super-Committee
Boston, MA – United for a Fair Economy (UFE) has published an open letter to Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the “Super-Committee.” The letter was signed by more than 100 members and supporters of UFE’s Responsible Wealth project who are business owners, investors and wealthy individuals in the top 5 percent of the U.S. economy. The letter calls for the majority of deficit reduction to be achieved with higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
The twelve member Super-Committee has been tasked with negotiating a plan by November 23 that will reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion, in addition to the nearly $1 trillion in cuts made in August.
All of the signers have incomes of more than $200,000 and are willing to pay income tax at a 39.6 percent rate, as outlined in President Obama's proposal to allow the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts for upper-income households. Among the signers are 16 people with incomes in excess of $1 million who support rates of at least 45 percent on themselves. The signers hail from 23 states, including 6 of the 11 states represented by members of the Super-Committee.
Recent polls show that the majority of Americans, including wealthy people, strongly support higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
The letter includes two additional key principles:
- At least half of all spending cuts should be made by reducing unnecessary military expenditures.
- None of the spending cuts should adversely impact beneficiaries of key social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education and other programs relied upon by low- and middle-income families.
If the Super-Committee fails to negotiate a deal by November 23, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts – half from defense, half from domestic programs (Social Security and Medicare exempted) – will take effect in January 2013. United for a Fair Economy and the signers of this letter believe that no deal is better than a bad deal. Together, they urge Super-Committee members to reject any proposal that does not meet the above principles. Read the letter at http://www.faireconomy.org/super-committee
The following individuals are available for comment regarding this letter:
- Arul Menezes, Research Manager and Software Architect, Microsoft Research, WA: “As an upper-income taxpayer whose wealth was entirely earned, rather than inherited, I feel my success was in great part due to the egalitarian and meritocratic society I encountered when I came to the U.S. That society has been all but destroyed by the current tax code. Today, much of my income is from capital gains and dividends. I find it grotesque that these should be taxed lower than income from work.”
- Phillippe Villers, President of Grainpro Inc., Concord, MA: “I am willing to pay more taxes to save the American economy. As an investor, I make decisions based on the opportunity offered, not the tax rates for wealthy Americans. Cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will not help to revive our struggling economy. I strongly oppose any compromise in the Super-Committee that does not include new revenues from those who can afford them, like myself, for half or more of this deficit reduction plan.”
- Jim Wellehan, President of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, Auburn, ME: “I find it terribly frustrating that other large national and international companies pay little to no taxes. To continue with an unfair tax code is to encourage cheating. We should tax incomes of all types at the same rates, be they from capital gains, rent, dividends, interest or work.”
- Lee Farris, Federal Tax Policy Coordinator for United for a Fair Economy: “Much of the federal deficit is due to the 2001 Bush tax cuts – which largely went to the wealthy – and to two expensive and unpaid-for wars. The automatic cuts, while still very harsh and unfair to low- and middle-income families, would be better than a deal in the Super-Committee that does not meet the principles outlined in our letter."
United for a Fair Economy (http://www.faireconomy.org) is a national organization working to close the growing income and wealth divides in the U.S. Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, is a network of 700 business leaders, high-wealth and upper-income advocates of progressive tax policies and corporate accountability.
Note: The content above will be updated as additional supporters sign the letter to the Super-Committee.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 11, 2011
Post Debt Deal:
United for a Fair Economy Partners with Rebuild the Dream for Launch of New "Contract for the American Dream"
Crowd-sourced Ten Point Plan Is Progressive Vision to Grow and Strengthen the Future Middle Class, Rebut Destructive Conservative Agenda
“United for a Fair Economy is proud to join the American Dream Movement as a partner to fight for the ideas and public systems that build a diverse and broad middle class, and decrease economic inequality,” said Lee Farris, Federal Tax Coordinator for UFE. “The Contract for the American Dream’s 10 ideas form a platform that, when enacted, will ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to thrive. One key principle is that our tax system should ensure that people who do well in America do well by America.”
The Contract is a crowd-sourced document, created by people from all walks of life who submitted over 25,000 policy ideas online in July. Over 130,000 Americans participated online and in person at 1,600 house meetings in July, casting 6 million votes on the ideas. The 10 leading ideas form the Contract for the American Dream. A policy fact sheet further explains each of the 10 ideas in the Contract.
Farris is the lead author of the tax policy fact sheet that supports the tax plank of the Contract. United for a Fair Economy has educated and organized for fair and responsible tax policies since its founding in 1995.
Two weeks ago, over 25,000 people allied with the American Dream Movement held 800 rallies across the country to protest the final debt ceiling deal. “The debt ceiling deal sacrificed America’s future middle class to protect tax breaks for today’s millionaires, billionaires and large businesses,” stated Farris. “Tax rates on the rich and corporations are at historic lows, while economic inequality and corporate profits are at historic highs. Millionaires and billion-dollar corporations need to pay their fair share so that we all can prosper.”
The American Dream Movement began earlier this year to fight conservative attacks on the middle class and the poor. United for a Fair Economy, Rebuild the Dream, MoveOn.org and more than 100 organizations have joined the American Dream Movement to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to find a decent job, afford to go to college, and provide a secure future for our children and communities.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 25, 2011
Report: Invert State Tax Structures To Eliminate State Budget Deficits
United for a Fair Economy Releases Flip It to Fix It: An Immediate, Fair Solution to State Budget Shortfalls, Documents Current Regressive State Tax Structures
The report, titled “Flip It to Fix It: An Immediate, Fair Solution to State Budget Shortfalls” was released today by Boston-based United for a Fair Economy and 13 state organizations around the country.
“Flip It to Fix It” attributes a large part of states’ current deficits to the regressive tax structures that the report shows are designed to fail. “Trying to raise adequate revenue through a regressive tax structure—where a greater percent of income is demanded of the poor than the well-off—is like trying to squeeze water from a stone,” said Karen Kraut, coordinator of state tax policy at United for a Fair Economy and co-author of the report.
“The inadequacy of regressive tax structures puts everything we value at risk: the well-being of families, the future competitiveness of the American workforce, and the nation’s ability to rebound from the recession and prosper,” said Kraut.
The report contends that an inverted tax structure not only solves budget crises, but increases equity and best spurs steady and strong economic activity.
“California cannot cut its way out of budget problems and this report shows that the budget is solvable with reasonable and fair tax policy that would generate billions,” stated Sylvia Allegretto, an economist from the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.
The report calls on states to adopt its proposed progressive tax reforms, many of which are immediately achievable and will help solve state deficits.
The full report and state-by-state information is now available at http://http://www.faireconomy.org/flipitreport.
To schedule an interview with the authors of the study and/or representatives from state organizations, please contact Shannon Moriarty at [email protected] or (617) 423-2148 ext. 108. Video statements are also available at http://http://www.faireconomy.org/flipitreport.
United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Boston, MA, which works to rein in economic inequality and promote a more broadly shared prosperity. The Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative, a project of UFE, is a network of state grassroots organizations in 24 states educating and organizing for progressive taxes. More at http://www.faireconomy.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Tax Wealth Like Work: the newly launched campaign of UFE’s Responsible Wealth network, is calling for taxing income earned from capital gains and dividends at the same rate as income earned from work.
- Restoring progressivity to the income tax: Since 2001, UFE has unequivocally opposed the Bush tax cuts for top earners. In March 2011, UFE joined other national organizations in support of Rep. Jan Schakowsky's Fairness in Taxation Act, which would create new income tax brackets of 45 percent and up for those with incomes in excess of one million dollars.
- Preserving the federal estate tax: Since the late 1990s, UFE has worked to preserve the estate tax – America’s only tax on inherited wealth. UFE supports the progressive estate tax proposal by Rep. Bernie Sanders.
Mazher Ali, 617-423-2148 x101, [email protected]
Sue Dorfman, 617-513-6179, [email protected]
Urge Return to Higher Tax Rates on Capital Gains and Dividend Income
Brian Miller, 617-423-2148 x111, [email protected]
Tim Sullivan, 617-721-8741, [email protected]
Group Applauds Congressional Progressive Caucus
for 'True Courage' with People's Budget
Links to New "Tax Wealth Like Work" Campaign