It’s Slow, Frustrating, But Talking to Congress Works

Last month we took a group of family business members, CEOs of family business centers, and directors of family offices to Capitol Hill. In all we conducted 33 meetings in offices of legislators from California to Virginia and we had success in getting our messages across.

A lot of preparatory work went into these visits, held June 14 and 15, because talking to Congress people and their staffs is often equal parts art and fact.

Before the meetings we gathered our family business executives in a room with real advocacy pros, from tax experts to messaging experts, like Frank Luntz, and we discussed how to listen and speak with our representatives.

Meetings with legislators, either in their districts or in DC, are so important because well, simply, Congress makes the laws. It’s all we have. Where else can we go to make change?

It’s a tired trope, but in this country if you don’t voice your opinion and explain your concerns, you will probably not like the outcome, or the laws passed. It’s the squeaky wheel theory at play. And it works.

Looking back, the one thing that stood out for me was legislators do want to hear from you. Yes, really, they do. And if you have a reasonably strong story, they will listen.

When I first started to meet with Members of Congress in 1995, the estate tax exemption was $650,000 and the estate tax rate was 55%.  It has taken over two decades of such in-person meetings to create change. 

Today, the lifetime exemption is now $12 million, and the tax rate is 40%.  That’s progress, but only because people let their voices be heard.

The actions are simple. Call, email, attend a town hall meeting, or a fundraiser and let them know what you care about. It does not matter what the issue is. If it is dear to your heart and business, let them know. The process may seem slow and can be frustrating, and it is, but it does ultimately work.

Serious and severe tax and economic proposals are being discussed by Congress every day. My time last month on The Hill once again made it clear that you can make a difference if you try, if we all try.

Policy and Taxation Group is the leading information, education and advocacy organization working for the reduction and ultimate elimination of estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer taxes, and other taxes that punish hard work and success. Our Mission is to challenge hostile tax policies that meaningfully and measurably impact families and limit the ability of family businesses to remain family owned. We work with Congress in Washington DC against 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 Estate Tax (death tax), and the possible elimination of Step up in Basis.

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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 Policy and Taxation Group 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.  Those issues include Step Up in Basis, gift tax, Valuation Discounts, Capital Gains Tax, Income Tax Rates, Wealth Tax, & Estate Tax (death tax).

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