It will likely never affect me, the publisher of small newspaper valued at less than $1 million, but the estate tax debate should not be reduced to an oversimplified class war question. In reality, any time we tamper with the structure of an economy or a society, there are always unseen and unknowable consequences.
This memo to members from an organization that advocates for community newspapers doesn’t spell out this concern in so many words, but It certainly underscores the strong probability that allowing the estate tax to be imposed at a threshold lower than a proposed compromise could hurt the free and independent nature of small newspapers. And frankly, much of the problems faced by the newspaper industry, and our democratic republic, stem directly from the short-term-gain nature of corporate ownership of newspapers.
Here’s the memo from the National Newspaper Association, of which The Star is a member.
Congressional Action Team alert on estate tax
The Senate plans to vote the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 13, on the compromise proposal on estate taxes
If estate taxes concern you, please contact your senators and representatives now.
The proposal would set the exemption for estates at $5 million per spouse, and set the tax rate for the remainder at 35 percent. It the proposal does not pass, the estate tax in 2011 will be imposed at a 55 percent rate for estates over $1 million. The compromise would cover the next two years.
The National Newspaper Association supports this compromise and urges you to take immediate action to let your members of Congress know that estate taxes:
Are a tax on assets that have already been taxed as income;
Create uncertainty and financial drain on ongoing family corporations that must engage in complex accounting and insurance management to plan for the tax;
Discourage next generations from maintaining stable, locally-owned newspapers that provide the glue that holds local communities together; and
Can force an unwanted sale of a successful newspaper if families cannot raise the revenue to pay the tax.
Senate passage is essential next week. Please urge your Representatives to be prepared to vote yes on the Senate estate tax package.