SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A newspaper review of IRS tax data shows that just a few South Dakota residents will benefit from the Republican plan to slash the federal estate tax as part of their tax code overhaul.
South Dakota’s GOP congressional delegates have frequently touted the policy’s impact in the state. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said in the Senate in October that “the threat of the death tax is a constant burden hanging over the heads of farmers and ranchers” in the state.
IRS data shows just over a dozen South Dakota residents paid the estate tax last year, the Argus Leader reported . Fewer than 20 South Dakota residents paid the tax between 2012 and 2016, besides the outlier year of 2013 when 32 people owed the tax.
Last year’s data shows that across the country, 682 of the individuals who owed the estate tax owned farm assets. The number accounts for 13 percent of total filers in 2016.
Under the GOP’s tax plan, individuals with assets up to $11 million would be exempt from the estate tax. The exemption would be $22 million in assets for married couples. The plan doubles existing exemption amounts.
Republicans have argued that many family farmers have to hire lawyers and pay fees to avoid the estate tax, even if they don’t owe it.
“We thought if we did it this way the vast majority of farm families in South Dakota and ranch families would be protected,” said Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota on Friday.
Critics of the plan have said that increasing exemptions will cost the federal treasury tens of billions of dollars a year in order to benefit few taxpayers. Others have said increasing the threshold for estate tax exemptions will have little to no impact on South Dakota farmers.
Sam Parkinson, executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, said, “it’s not going after family farms, it’s going after bigger groups.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com