Carlisle Republican State Representative Stephen Bloom has introduced legislation to exempt family businesses from the provisions of the cruel, onerous, grave-robbing Pennsylvania death/inheritance tax, which seizes 4.5 to 15% of an estate (depending upon the relationship of the heir to the decedent) from dollar one from all but a surviving spouse heir. The state levy is in stark contrast to that imposed by the federal government, which exempts the first $5 million. Additionally, the individual that owes death/inheritance tax in Pennsylvania must generally engage an estate attorney at great expense to oversee the process and to prepare an Inheritance Tax return, something which is not required for exempt estates at the federal level.
Governor Tom Corbett recently signed legislation which exempt family farms from the levy, but forgotten in the tax elimination initiative is the average Pennsylvania citizen, the person who inherits a home or other property from a relative or friend that made the bequest.
When Pennsylvania was under the “leadership” of Governor Ed “Spendell,” I challenged him about the death tax on a Pennsylvania Cable Network call-in program, providing facts and figures in making my argument that the tax was inequitable, regressive, inappropriate and should be abolished. He put his hand up as if to say, “Stop”, and then proceeded to offer the limp explanation that the tax was in place when he took office, indicating no desire to repeal it.
The Commonwealth seizes money from decedent estates not because it is just or fair to do so, but because it can. The individual that manipulates their assets through sophisticated financial planning will not be subject to the levy, thus it is the ordinary citizen that gets socked with the bill.
There will not be justice on the state death tax front until it is removed from the backs of all Pennsylvanians, not only family farms and businesses.