On Capitol Hill, Accountability and Accomplishments Matter More Now Than Ever
Fighting the good fight is a forward-looking enterprise, but sometimes it’s worth taking a breather, taking a long look back, and celebrating, if briefly, our wins.
The biggest of big recent wins was the formation late last year of the bipartisan Congressional Family Business Caucus. For the first time ever, family businesses have a voice on Capitol Hill. If nothing else this caucus will let our leaders know how strong family enterprises are in this country.
When I speak with members of Congress, they are nearly always floored when I tell them family businesses are the largest private employers in the U.S. Their response is: “Really?”
Family businesses of all shapes and sizes, first generation to tenth generation, make up nearly 60 percent of the private work force and contribute annually $7.7 trillion to our economy, research shows. Congress is finally starting to take notice of these numbers.
We’ve got some powerful co-chairs leading this caucus, too. They are Representatives Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).
The first caucus was held Feb. 28 on Capitol Hill, a big first step. The next caucus meeting is scheduled for May 16.
I call multi-generational family businesses the “quiet giant” of our economy. But we aren’t so quiet now. In fact, if you add up the victories we’ve made on The Hill, the list is impressive.
Here are just a few of the most recent accomplishments we at Family Enterprise USA and Policy and Taxation Group, along with the help of our many partners and supporters, guided through our legislative process.
It starts with exclusion of poor tax proposals, ones that hurt family businesses big and small, that were proposed in the first version of 2020/2021 The Build Back Better proposal.
The first hard-fought exclusions were the elimination of Grantor Trusts, the elimination of Valuation Discounts for Non-Business Assets, and the elimination of Step Up In Basis. Thankfully, we were able to help stave off all of these proposed eliminations.
Next, we were successful in excluding provisions to reduce of the Estate Tax Lifetime Exemption, the 199A Reduction, and IRA Limitation of Private Stock Ownership. In addition, we helped stop the increase in Estate Tax Rate and the every-looming increase in Income Tax Rates.
On Capitol Hill, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. But our experts help us stay on top of hidden measures that might destroy multi-generational family businesses, lose jobs, and damage communities.
Our work has helped stop the increase in Cap Gains Tax Rate, a Surtax of five percent on income of $10 million, and an additional three percent surtax on income above $25 million. We also helped stop the Net Investment Income Tax, 3.8 percent on non-passive income, a change in tax on Carried Interest, and the elimination of Accelerated Depreciation & Like Kind Exchanges.
On the tax and regulatory front, consider today the “golden hour” for estate tax exemptions. This is another battle we won. But act fast. It all changes January 1, 2026.
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act nearly doubled the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption from $5.6 million for individuals and $11.18 million for couples, to $11.18 million for individuals and $22.36 million for couples, indexed for inflation after 2018.
For 2023, the exemption stands at $12.92 million per person and $25.84 million for a married couple. Simply, you can give up to those amounts over your lifetime without paying federal income tax. Any amount above is taxed at a hefty 40 percent.
Unless new legislation is passed by January 1, 2026, this most favorable estate tax exemptions in 50 years will end. After that, exemptions get cut in half. The good news: you can start planning for this change right now.
Why are we fighting so hard?
The results from our recent Family Enterprise USA Annual Family Business Survey 2023 continue to show family business are the anchor of America’s economy. Simply, family businesses grow, prosper, and add jobs even in the face of inflation, burdensome tax policies, and pandemics.
And, despite the jagged economic terrain of high inflation, looming recession, and hard to manage labor, 74 percent multi-generational family businesses have succeeded for 30 years or more and 65 percent expect to grow in 2023. Last year, 71 percent saw their business increase.
We must continue fighting for more wins.
The proposed Biden Budget calls for increase in corporate taxes from its current 21 percent to 28 percent, a whopping 25 percent increase on our country’s wealthiest. It also proposes increasing married couple tax rates to 39.6 percent for those earning over $450,00.
Many of these couples are owners and operators of family businesses. They are already hurting since most are pass-through tax entities and do not receive the benefits of much lower corporate tax rates.
The good news is that family businesses can adapt faster and easier than larger corporations, and our voice is now louder than ever.
But let’s take a moment to celebrate our wins. We now have a new Congressional Family Business Caucus to cheer for us, and help push through initiatives good for America’s largest private employer.
The quiet giant is awakening and, in the big picture, the wins help create a positive path for the future.
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The need for fact-based reporting of issues important to multi generational businesses and protecting a lifetime of savings has never been greater. Now more than ever, multi generational businesses and family businesses are under fire. That's why Family Enterprise USA is passionately working to increase the awareness of issues important to generationally-owned family businesses built on hard work, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill. The issues we fight for or against with Congress in Washington DC include high income tax rates, possible elimination of valuation discounts, increase in capital gains tax, enactment of a wealth tax, and the continued burden of the gift tax, estate tax and generation skipping tax.
Family Enterprise USA promotes family business and job creation, growth, and sustainability by advocating for family businesses, their lifetime of savings, and the issues they face running their businesses every day. Some of the issues we fight for or against with Congress in Washington DC are high Income tax rates, possible elimination of valuation discounts, increase in capital gains tax, enactment of a wealth tax, and the continued burden of the gift, estate taxes and generation skipping taxes. Family Enterprise USA represents and celebrates all sizes and industries of family businesses and multi-generational employers.
Family Enterprise USA (FEUSA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Family foundations can donate.
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