IndustryWeek Summit (Taxes)

Nov. 20, 1998, Washington, D.C.

FARIS cont.: Number two, the most unfair tax is the death tax. It is not inheritance tax. It is a tax on death. They put that in to make sure the Rockefellers and the Kennedys didn't pass along all this wealth to their children. And who is getting kicked in the teeth is the small family farm ranch and business in America. You pay a capital gains tax alive. The day after you die, your relatives have to pay a capital gains tax over twice what you had to pay alive. Now why should the capital gains rate be twice? Why don't we have the capital gains rate living or dead the same? That's a start on death tax. Make the death tax rate the same as capital gains. But why should you have to see the undertaker and the IRS person on the very same day. That is just not -- it is stupid. It is unfair. Third point. The tax we fear the most, but don't pay the most but we fear the most is IRS. Now we have had IRS reform and I'm very glad to see it. But lipstick on the pig says it's still a pig, it just looks a little better. Now we want to butcher that thing and start all over again. Our members aren't going to let that go. We now have over a million people sign petitions saying lets get rid of it. By sun setting and having an orderly process to go to a new tax code. Well, who would be against having an orderly process to new tax code? People who are benefiting by the current code. Or, number two, who see any major change in a tax code being very disruptive in the short term. What we don't want is Wall Street disrupted. The President said we were reckless and irresponsible. Now the last thing we want to do on the Main Street is have Wall Street go crazy because it hits us. Big business fails, we fail. We're tied together. We can't be separated. So we want an orderly transition. Lord knows we don't have any orderly transition now. If you don't believe that, look at the '86 tax effort. So for us, this IRS push is our long-term push. International trade is very important. We want our people to know more about trade and how it effects them. And the more of them going on Internet and doing Web pages, the more we are seeing that. But the key for us, long term, and we are not going to let go because even though people don't think that we would ever do this, I didn't think the Berlin Wall would ever come down either. And it takes -- you've got to have -- you have got to be persistent. So we are kind of like a dog with a bone. We are not letting the IRS go. Now what is going to happen in the 106th? Are we going to get all three of those done? No. No. The only way those will happen is that people will have to feel enough pressure to get that done. And part of that is leadership of who the President is. And, frankly, we're going to have to wait a couple of years on that. BRANDT: Barry, will you -- will taxes be a priority for you as well? ROGSTAD: Taxes will -- a priority for us for a long time, as you know, has been fundamental tax reform. That is a long-term process. I don't think that you will get in -- we view fundamental tax reform as dealing with a basic saving and consumption split in the economy. You are not going to deal with social security if you don't get in the fundamental tax reforms. It's like going into the tackle box and trying to take a hook out. You get a whole bundle of stuff at the same time. And I think it is going to bet here.

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