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ABC, as part of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition (FBETC), June 19 supported the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 (S. 1183/H.R. 2429) that would permanently repeal the estate tax. The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. John Thune (R- S.D.) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.).

Construction companies are overwhelmingly small, family-owned and closely-held businesses, and are particularly susceptible to the estate tax burden given the capital-intensive, illiquid nature of the industry. Due in large part to the estate tax, more than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation, and 90 percent fail to see the third generation. 

According to the Small Business Administration, 77 percent of failed family businesses enter into bankruptcy following the death of the founder. The estate tax not only jeopardizes the survival of family-owned construction companies, but it also siphons off critical funds that could be invested back into the business.

In a letter sent to Thune, Brady and McIntyre, the FBETC offered its support for provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, including a $5 million estate tax exemption, indexed for inflation, permanent lower tax rates and provisions for spousal transfer and stepped-up basis. 

However, the FBETC noted that while these changes represent significant reform to the estate tax rules, the coalition continues to believe that repeal is the best solution to protect all family-owned businesses from the estate tax.