Last week, ThinkProgress documented conservative efforts in twelve states to shift the tax burden onto the middle class even while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. In three states, conservatives are going even further, proposing massive estate tax cuts for millionaires even as income inequality is at its worse since the 1920s. Here are the details:
MAINE: Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage’s (I) tax reform package would raise the state’s estate tax exemption from $1 million to $2 million — allowing four hundred of the state’s wealthiest estates to escape taxation. At the same time, the tax plan would raise property taxes on middle class Mainers while freezing healthcare funding for working parents, cutting money for schools, and raising the retirement age for public workers. Republican legislators want to go even further, and are currently considering eliminating the estate tax altogether.
OHIO: In January, House Speaker William Batchelder (R) called Gov. John Kasich’s (R) proposal to completely eliminate the estate tax one of the Republican-controlled legislature’s “top priorities.” But already the bill has garnered strong opposition from local governments, who depend on estate tax revenue and are already concerned state spending cuts. Even while finding room for estate tax reductions, Kasich’s proposed budget cuts 25 percent of funding for local schools, $427 million for nursing homes, $1 million for food banks, $12 million from children’s hospitals, and $15.9 million from an adoption program for children with special needs.
NEW JERSEY: In his 2011 budget proposal, Gov. Chris Christie called for raising the state’s estate tax exemption from $675,000 to $1 million even while proposing cuts to the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and homestead rebates for working poor families. And last year Christie vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature that would have raised taxes on the state’s millionaires to help fund property tax relief for Main Street.
Last December, the federal government set the precedent for estate tax cuts when the bi-partisan tax deal signed by President Obama cut the estate tax rate to its second lowest level since 1931.