Legislation in the general assembly aims at eliminating Ohio’s death tax. Ohio is one of 17 states collecting an estate tax. Ohio also has the lowest threshold in the nation before the tax kicks in — an estate value of $338,333.
Ohio collected about $340 million in estate tax revenues in 2009, 80 per cent of which went to villages, cities and townships, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Many local governments are fighting the move, but a growing number of local officials are speaking out in support. You can’t be for big taxes, big government and big bureaucracy and represent the people.
This reckless tax destroys our farms, our small family businesses and the jobs associated with them. If we are not competitive, businesses are not going to stay or come here. Based on USDA’s 2002-07 statistics, Ohio lost about 700 farms per year.
The estate tax burden falls heavily on farmers and small businesses because those businesses often take a lot of capital assets, such as land, equipment and livestock, to generate income.
Frequently the death of a loved one forces the remaining family to sell to pay the estate tax.
Agriculture is Ohio’s No. 1 industry, employing one in six and contributing $98 billion to Ohio’s economy. Farms forced into sale by Ohio’s estate tax usually fall to residential development.
This irrevocably changes the character of our communities and costs in real dollars. For every tax dollar collected in Lafayette Township, residential development costs $1.16 in services but only 32 cents for farms.
Estate taxes distributed to local government are not measured against the impact. Governments cannot rely on estate taxes for budgeting because of their uncertainty. Frankly, it is just bad form for officials to literally bank on constituents dying.
There is also strong evidence the estate tax has a punitive impact on economic growth as it’s a leading cause of our wealthiest citizens and businesses fleeing the state and taking their assets with them.
Deerfield Township trustees have labeled the estate tax immoral. On average that township collects less than $100,000 a year in estate tax. The board of trustees has tried to return those taxes to the estates only to find that legally, it can’t be done. Seems it is much easier for the government to take your money than to give it back.
Ohio’s estate tax also begs the question, “why?” The tax is not relevant to your death. Government doesn’t use tit to pay for your funeral, the cost of probating your estate or even processing death certificates.
The estate tax is simply a tax on the American dream. Whether it is a family farm, a small family business, a home or savings, these assets have already been bought, taxed and paid for. Then, at your death, the state steps in and takes more.
Please urge your state representatives and Senators to support elimination of Ohio’s estate tax.
(The author is a trustee for Lafayette Township, Medina County)