Bringing the Death Tax Back from the Dead

As Harry mentioned, a majority of Senators sought today to permanently end the federal death tax, but could muster only 57 of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure.
New Mexico tax law links the state’s death tax to the federal one. By 2005, recent abatement of the federal estate tax effectively eliminated the state death tax. If nothing is done in Washington, however, New Mexico’s death tax will return, along with the federal tax, in 2011.
New Mexico’s Jeff Bingaman spoke out on the floor of the Senate against killing the death tax, before voting against the tax’s repeal. Given the strong tradition of family-owned businesses in New Mexico, one would think all of our representatives in Washington would know better.
Bingaman excuses the confiscation of the fruits of a lifetime of effort, effort that has already been subject to income and other taxes, because before the reductions, “there were only 200 people dying with any estate tax liability” in NM in 2001. That’s 200 of our favorite restaurants, our historic tourist-drawing ranches, our most productive family farms, even many of the funeral homes New Mexico families have relied on for generations.
And that’s only taxed deaths occuring in one year. The number of New Mexicans who will be subject to the death tax at the end of their lifetimes is much greater, unless the current federal law is changed.
It’s time the death tax itself took a trip to the funeral home.