Republican Lawmakers Propose Ending Delaware's Estate Tax - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Republican Lawmakers Propose Ending Delaware's Estate Tax

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DOVER, Del. -- A proposed law in Delaware's General Assembly would end a tax on estates worth $5.43 million or more at the end of 2016, though it faces opposition in a year when lawmakers are trying to navigate major fiscal issues.

House Bill 16 would add a sunset provision to Delaware's estate tax, which only applies to large estates. The federal estate tax threshold is $5.49 million in 2017.

Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson (R-Milford) said the estate tax acts as a deterrent to businesses, farmers, or retirees to either stay in Delaware or move to the state.

"If we've got a tax policy or various tax policies that discourage people from moving here, then we should do everything we can to get rid of it," he said.

However, the bill does have some push back during a year when lawmakers will be trying to balance a budget with little fiscal wiggle room.

Rep. Trey Paradee (D-Kent County) said the estate tax affects a small number of Delawareans and that the revenue is too valuable in a year when the state is already in a cash-strapped situation. It's estimated that the tax will bring in about $5 million for the state's general fund in the current budget year.

"I don't think it's too much to ask the upper three tenths of one percent to pay a little extra and leave behind a little legacy when they pass away," he said.

Paradee said stories of farmers' surviving families having to sell their land and operations ahead to pay for the estate tax are myths, though John Foltz, a farmer in Kent County who said his family would be affected, said he is worried about the long-term future of the properties.

"It really ticks me off," he said. "It's an invasion of the government and to your private life."

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