The estate tax was passed a century ago at the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt. The estate tax is a levy on millionaire inheritances. It puts a brake on the concentration of wealth and political power, and raises substantial revenue -- over a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next decade, if it's kept -- from the richest one tenth of 1 percent.
Only households with wealth starting at $11 million (and individuals with wealth over $5.5 million) are subject to the tax.
"This hurts a lot of farmers," claimed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. "Many people have to sell their family farm."
Estate tax opponents haven't been able to identify a single example of a farm being lost because of the estate tax. Most estate taxpayers live in big cities and wealthy states such New York, Florida, and California. Few have probably ever driven a tractor.
The US Department of Agriculture shows only 4 out of every 1,000 farms will owe any estate tax at all -- and the effective tax rate on these small farms is a modest 11 percent. Of those few farms, most have substantial non-farm income, according to the report.
While some farm subsidies promote price stability and conservation practices, the bulk of funds go to the wealthiest 1 percent of farmers and corporate agricultural operations. The National Farmers Union and the American Family Farm Coalition support retaining the estate tax. They believe the concentration of farmland and farm subsidies has created unfair corporate farm monopolies across rural America.