The next few weeks will be a pivotal time in the debate regarding tax reform, and especially the future of the 101- year- old Death Tax. The Mount Rushmore state has been a leader on this issue since 2001. That year, South Dakota voters repealed the state’s Death Tax by an overwhelming 80% of the vote. Not coincidently, the Estate Tax later proved to be a driving force in the election of Senator John Thune, when it was a cornerstone of his campaign in his 2004 victory over incumbent Senator Tom Daschle.

South Dakota continues to lead the nation’s effort to repeal this tax, championed in the House by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (HR 631) and in the U.S. Senate by Mr. Thune (S 205). Their effort may finally be on the precipice of a major win for family farms, businesses, and their employees. The win – the repeal of this destructive tax – would represent a major leap forward in the economic prospects for both South Dakota and the nation.

From a national standpoint, America’s estate tax is the fourth-highest in the world. Russia, China, Canada, Mexico, Sweden and Norway are among the many nations which have repealed their Death Taxes. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee found that the death tax has destroyed roughly $1.1 trillion in capital stock in the economy. Lost capital means fewer trucks, smaller tractors, fewer combines, and less agricultural technology. It also means fewer jobs and lower wages.

Should repeal occur, it will be largely because of South Dakota’s Congressional leadership at the forefront of this issue, as they fight for the state and national economy. This opportunity to repeal the death tax is critical for our farms and businesses that continue to provide for our families, South Dakota and the United States of America.

During the Thune vs. Daschle Senate race, Vernell Johnson, South Dakota’s famed auctioneer and author said, “I’ve sold too many of South Dakota’s farms in the last four decades because a family member died. It’s time to get rid of the Death Tax once and for all.” I think that says it all.

Dick Patten is the President of the American Business Defense Council and a noted business leader and speaker.

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