Sen. Daines touts proposed tax cuts, wants to end "death" tax - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Sen. Daines touts proposed tax cuts, wants to end "death" tax

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) answered questions from the "tens of thousands" of constituents tuning in to his 19th tele-townhall that ran 50 minutes regarding proposed tax cuts.

Sen. Daines explained his support for the tax-reform framework discussed on Capitol Hill.

The proposed $5 trillion worth of tax cuts would take place over a decade, but Republicans do not want to raise the budget deficit by more than $1.5 trillion, which will be a difficult task.

"We've lost five million manufacturing jobs since 2000," Sen. Daines said. "We have a tax system that is not very competitive. It puts the United States at a disadvantage."

The Republican said the biggest challenge for Montana is the low wages paid to workers, "generally Montana falls in the bottom of those rankings."

While Montana ranks in the bottom 25 for median household income, the Treasure State boasts a cost of living well below the national average, according to SmartAsset.com, a personal finance site.

The current tax code is over 74,000 pages in length, and Sen. Daines said he wants to simplify it. He cited the "sluggish economic growth" seen in the prior administration as a need for tax cuts and a raise in GDP as a result.

In August, President Trump touted hitting 3% growth in GDP in the second quarter; that 3% looks to continue in the third quarter. Since 2009, the GDP growth reached at or above 3% on a quarterly basis about eight other times, according to Fortune.

A big sticking point for needed reform, Sen. Daines said, is the estate tax -- which opponents call the death tax.

"Agriculture is our number one economic driver in the state," he said. "If we want to keep these farms and ranchers passed to the next generation without having to divide the ranches up to pay the tax bill, which sometimes happens, the best thing to do is to repeal the death tax."

"I fully support the repeal of the death tax. It can actually be a job killer if the estate has to be divided up."

Sen. Daines claimed it affects Montanans he's spoken to who own ranches and farms.

In an analysis released Monday, Center On Budget and Policy Priorities points out 99.8% of estates owe no estate tax at all, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. 

"Only the estates of the wealthiest 0.2% of Americans — roughly 2 out of every 1,000 people who die — owe any estate tax," the article states. "This is because of the tax’s high exemption amount, which has jumped from $650,000 per person in 2001 to $5.49 million per person in 2017."

Montana's exemption amount sits at $5.49 million.

"There are a lot of specifics in the tax bill we don't know," Sen. Daines admitted, adding that he hopes to get bipartisan support.

Sen. Daines may find tough sledding in support from his own party, let alone Democrats. On Monday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she doesn't back eliminating the estate tax or lowering individual tax rates for the wealthy.

The bill draft will be released on Wednesday.

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