Press Release

Cuellar Votes for Tax Cut to Benefit Families, Farmers and Small Businesses

House passes "death" tax compromise to make exemptions permanent

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Washington, December 3, 2009 | Ashley Patterson ((202) 225-1640) | comments
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today voted for H.R. 4154, the Permanent Estate Tax Relief Act, tax cutting legislation to provide relief to American families, farmers and small businesses by extending current estate tax exemptions for inheritances that would otherwise face tax hikes in 2011.
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Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today voted for H.R. 4154, the Permanent Estate Tax Relief Act, tax cutting legislation to provide relief to American families, farmers and small businesses by extending current estate tax exemptions for inheritances that would otherwise face tax hikes in 2011.

Under current estate tax law, inheritances less than $3.5 million per individual and $7 million per married couple are exempt from taxes. In 2011, thousands of additional Americans would be subject to a revised tax, posing financial challenges for farmers and family-owned enterprises.

“Our small businesses and family-owned farms continue to weather this economic storm. They need to see a sign of relief in the future so they can make investments in their businesses today,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This bill gives them stability and peace of mind to plan ahead.”

Under current law, the federal estate tax maximum rate is 45 percent. Without legislation, the estate tax is scheduled to be entirely eliminated for year 2010, but would return in 2011 affecting all estates valued at over $1 million and at higher rates of 55 percent.

The tax cut passed by the House today would leave less than 1 percent of all estates subject to the estate tax.

“This is a fiscally responsible compromise for America’s budget and America’s families,” said Congressman Cuellar. “If we don’t take action now, current laws will briefly disappear, only to reappear in 2011 taxing more Americans and at a higher rate. This yo-yo approach to taxing needs a permanent fix.”

Congressman Cuellar and other members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition supported the bill because it improves financial stability for America’s businesses and ensures more consistency within future estate tax revenues.

In the past 11 years, estate tax rates have changed ten times.

“It is time that the United States Congress ensures certainty for all Americans when it comes to estate planning,” said Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union. “H.R. 4154 accomplishes this goal.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, household incomes for small to large farm owners ranged from $586,000 to $2.2 million in 2008. Under the plan passed by the House Thursday, these family-owned farms would continue to be exempt from estate taxes.

Congressman Cuellar supports more tax exemptions to help preserve the nation’s farms and family-owned operations. This year, he cosponsored H.R. 3905, the Estate Tax Relief Act of 2009, which aims to increase the estate tax exemption from $3.5 million to $5 million.

“The death tax shouldn’t run our family businesses out of operation,” said Congressman Cuellar. “They’re a part of the American dream and a part of the American spirit.”

The House passed Thursday H.R. 4154 by a vote of 225-200, and if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, the bill would save Americans $234 billion in taxes over the next ten years.

For more information on the Permanent Estate Tax Relief Act, please visit: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h4154ih.txt.pdf


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Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Government Oversight & Reform Committees in the 111th Congress. Accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development, and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip and member of the Blue Dog Coalition.

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