Friday, May 9, 2014

Re: death taxes and taxes generally

From: Alex Ayers <>
Date: Tue, May 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM
Subject: Please sign the Death Tax Repeal Pledge!
To: "" <>

Dear Mr. Shattuck,

I am writing to you today to invite you to sign the Death Tax Repeal Pledge.  The Death Tax Repeal Pledge is a project of the 60 Plus Association.  Last year over 400 candidates for federal office signed the Death Tax Repeal Pledge. Past signers of the Death Tax Repeal Pledge include Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney, House Speaker John Boehner and Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and over 130 current members of Congress.

If you are interested in signing the pledge, please send the signed pledge to

You may also make a copy and mail it to:

Alex Ayers
1401 K St. NW
Suite 1101
Washington, DC 20005

A super-majority of likely voters support eliminating the death tax as poll after poll has indicated such. People instinctively feel that the death tax is not fair for the government to prey on grieving families to collect a tax simply because someone has died. Often families are forced to sell assets such as farms and businesses to pay the tax, while other times, employees of family businesses must be laid off while payrolls are slashed.

As you may have heard, on June 19th, 2013 Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX-8) introduced the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013, H.R. 2429, which will repeal the federal estate tax. The bill has already attracted 210 bipartisan cosponsors including over 120 pledge signers.

Repealing the death tax would spur job creation. According to a study by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, repealing the death tax would add nearly one million additional jobs. Additionally, a 2012 Joint Economic Committee found that the death tax has prevented $1.3 trillion in capital formation, which could have been used to increase employment and expand GDP.

The death tax contributes a very small portion of federal revenues, currently collecting less than half of one percent of total revenue. A study by Steve Entin found that repealing the death tax would lead to higher economic growth and thereby increase federal revenue from other taxes. The death tax imposes burdensome compliance costs and forces family businesses to divert productive capital into large life insurance policies and expensive estate planning.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Alex Ayers
Policy Analyst
60 Plus Association

My response

From: Rob Shattuck <>
Date: Fri, May 9, 2014 at 9:09 AM
Subject: Re: Please sign the Death Tax Repeal Pledge!
To: Alex Ayers <>
Cc: Apryl Marie Fogel <>
Dear Alex,

I am sorry to be slow in responding to you on this.

Taxes are always beset with wanting to avoid their imposition on one's self and for them to be imposed on someone else.

I am dubious about the making of comparisons of the effects on economic activity of different types of taxes. I am dubious that economists and other experts can make meaningful projections and determinations about this in comparing different taxes.

Fairness or unfairness of taxes that are imposed by a government is highly subjective. Even though fairness or unfairness is highly subjective, a consensus view may be possible about some things, such as progressivity of income taxes being appropriate.

I personally have an estate which I would like to protect from death taxes.

I do not categorically rule out death taxes as a legitimate form of taxes.

I think the best thing which could happen with taxes is for there to be a regime of taxation which has general acceptance and which society is able to keep fixed.

I think the worst thing about taxes is the extent to which changes are made and changes are political footballs subject to political pushing and pulling about who pays more taxes and/or who pays less taxes.

Take capital gains taxes. There is more than 50 years of political tussling over increasing and lowering of the rates. I am not convinced that a meaningful showing can be made that the country and the economy are better off or worse off as result this more than 50 years of political tussling over capital gains taxes (particularly assuming constant tax revenues are targeted and any increase or decrease in capital gains taxes is offset by a corresponding decrease or increase in other taxes).

If I was elected to Congress, I would be most interested in trying to persuade my colleagues about the things I say above. I think any pledge, such as your request by the 60 Plus Association, would impair my ability in trying to make the foregoing persuasion. Accordingly, I am going to respectfully decline to make the requested pledge.

Rob Shattuck
Candidate, AL 6th Congressional district

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