Trump’s push for tax reform includes repeal of death tax |

Trump’s push for tax reform includes repeal of death tax

NDSA members at the speech. Back, left to right, Julie Ellingson, Lowell Malard, Gene Heinrich, Howdy Lawlar, Roger Stuber, Jason Schmidt, Randy Schmitt, Kevin Elliott, Gene Harris, Dan Rorvig, Sherry Schulz, front, Richard Tokach, Chad Ellingson, Mark Huseth, Jason Zahn, Jamie Hauge, Scott Ressler, Warren Zenker, Jeff Schafer and Tim Erbele.
Photo courtesy NDSA |

President Donald Trump’s visit to Bismarck, N.D., Sept., 6 was a push for bipartisan tax reform policy from a state that strongly supported him throughout the election.

“And the policy we’re talking about is cutting your taxes. Do you like that policy? Well, you’re the hardworking people who provide the energy that makes this country run, and we are finally getting the government out of the way so you can do your jobs,” said President Trump, opening his speech at an oil refinery in Mandan, N.D.

In his tax overhaul, the elimination of the estate tax was on the list and the Trump used Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and a fourth-generation Morton County cattle rancher as an example of a ranching family at risk from a tax that has not been a benefit to the country.

“Like many family ranchers, Julie worries about the death tax shutting down her family business and keeping her from passing it on to her children. It’s a devastating tax. Julie: We are not going to allow the death tax or the inheritance tax or the whatever-you-want-to-call-it to crush the American dream. Not going to let it happen, so — fighting hard,” Trump said.

Trump’s address, given just across the river from Bismarck included renewed hope from a president that some say has been stepping up to the plate, checking off a number of campaign promises from his first day on the job.

“Since my very first day in office, I’ve moved at record pace — and really we have gone at a record pace — to eliminate the barriers that have been holding back our economy. You’ve seen it — so many jobs, the stock market is at new highs. We’re getting rid of one job-killing regulation after another. We’ve lifted the restrictions on shale oil. We’ve lifted those restrictions on energy of all types. We’re putting our miners back to work. We’ve cancelled restrictions on oil and natural gas. We’ve ended the EPA intrusion into your jobs and into your lives. And we’re refocusing the EPA on its core mission: clean air and clean water,” Trump said.

“We are the highest taxed nation in the world — that will change,” Trump said prior to his speech.

“Both of the Reagan tax cuts were passed by a Democratic majority in the House, a Democratic speaker, and the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate, including a Democratic senator from the great state of North Dakota,” Trump said in prepared remarks released prior to his visit to North Dakota. “If Democrats continue their obstruction — if they don’t want to bring back your jobs, raise your pay and help America win — voters should deliver a clear message: Do your job to deliver for America, or find a new job.”


According to Ellingson, North Dakota ranchers are on the same page with President Trump, and NDSA was happy to be a part of the president’s planned discussion leading up to the speech.

“North Dakota cattle ranchers share the president’s goal of reducing Americans’ tax burden, simplifying the tax process and reinvigorating the economy so we, and the generations that follow us, have more opportunities to grow and prosper,” Ellingson said.

“We all stand to benefit from comprehensive tax reform, if done right. For cattle producers, preservation and enhancement of important tools like cash accounting, interest business deductions, Section 179 expensing and like-kind exchanges are critical.”

Trump’s visit opened the door for the president to lay out his plan, Ellingson said, and to include input from North Dakota cattlemen.

Repeal of the estate tax is also at the top of producers’ list in North Dakota.

“Full and permanent repeal of the estate tax, better known as the death tax, is another priority. The death tax represents a major impediment to the generational transfer of family businesses after the death of a loved one, often requiring the family to sell off critical parts of their business to cover the tax liability. Equally important is the preservation of the stepped-up basis, which helps keep the business stable and allows surviving family members to carry on the family’s business and legacy,” Ellingson said.

“Cattle ranchers play a critical role in communities throughout North Dakota and across the country. We stand ready to work with our elected officials to develop comprehensive tax reform that lays the foundation for a vibrant rural economy in the years to come.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., joined the president for his speech, although her support of the plan is still unclear, despite the White House calling her attendance a sign of bipartisan support. Heitkamp’s hesitation was clear when she said the “devil is in the details.”

“Everybody’s saying, what’s she doing up here?” President Trump said after inviting Heitkamp along with other congressional delagates up on the stage.

In a statement following the speech, Heitkamp stressed the importance of the White House, Republicans and Democrats working together to come up with a tax reform plan.

“Any time a president comes to North Dakota, it’s a great opportunity to lay the groundwork for a better future for our businesses and our families,” Heitkamp said.


Trump mentioned the devastation from hurricane Harvey, but also shared concern over drought conditions in the Northern states.

“I also want to tell the people of North Dakota and the western states who are feeling the pain of the devastating drought that we are with you 100 percent — 100 percent. And I’ve been in close touch, numerous times, with our Secretary of Agriculture, who is doing a fantastic job, Sonny Perdue, who has been working with your governor and your delegation to help provide relief,” Trump said.

“I want you to know we’ll always stand strong and unified with our farmers and our ranchers — the backbone of America — that I can tell you, 100 percent.”

According to reports, President Trump is the 15th president to visit North Dakota while in office. The last was Obama, in 2015, at the Standing Rock reservation.

North Dakota, with the lowest unemployment rate in America, has lots to be proud of, according to President Trump.

“Today, families have new jobs and new hope because of the vast energy wealth that you brought to life right here. You understand the vital truth: Washington has no right to shut down energy production because America’s energy wealth doesn’t belong to the government, it belongs to the people.”

During the speech, President Trump discussed some key areas for his tax reform.

“First, we need a tax code that is simple, fair, and easy to understand — unlike what we have. Our tax code has gotten ridiculously complex. This complexity leads to massive frustration, wasted time and wasted money. Lots of wasted money,” he said, pointing out that the average taxpayer wades through 241 pages of instructions to file a basic tax form.

“Second, we will cut taxes for middle-class families. This is a major, major tax cut — the biggest since Ronald Reagan. The pipefitters and plumbers, and nurses, and police officers — all the people like you who pour their hearts into every penny earned in both the offices and oilfields of America — you’re the ones who carry this nation on your back, and it’s time for you to get the relief that you deserve,” Trump said, pointing to benefits, such as raising the standard deduction, increasing the child tax credit and lowering tax rates.

“Third, we need a tax code that restores our competitive edge so we can create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Our plan will provide tax relief to businesses of all sizes. And we will cut the business tax rate as much as possible. Ideally, we would like to bring our business tax rate down to around 15 percent. That’s a tremendous drop,” he said, telling the North Dakota audience that it would be the biggest tax reduction in history.

The tax breaks will extend to small businesses, according to Trump.

“But we’ll also dramatically reduce the tax rate for America’s small businesses which have created more than 60 percent of new private-sector jobs in the recent past. Tax relief is on the way for millions of sole proprietors, LLCs, and partnerships who report their income to their personal — and they do this — they put it on their personal tax returns. People think of it as a business, but it’s on their personal tax returns. Those people, with those businesses, will be tremendous beneficiaries.”

In a call for action, Trump used the failed health care reform as an example.

“If you demand it, and if you call up people in congress — good people, sometimes maybe not the right intention, but good people — congress will deliver on it because they have no choice,” he said.

“So you have to call your congressmen. You have to call your senators. You have to make sure that they do what they have to do,” he added, pointing out that he hasn’t given up on health care reform. “We never give up.”

“If Democrats don’t want to bring back your jobs, cut your taxes, raise your pay, and help America win, voters should deliver a clear message: Do your job to deliver for America, or find a new job,” Trump said.

Trump finished his speech with a push for pride in American made products.

“So do you remember, when we were growing up, it was either “Made in America” or “Made in the USA?” he said.

“There was such pride in that label, such incredible pride. And it’s coming back again. Believe me, it’s coming, because the quality of what we do is second to none.”

-Eatherton is a freelance writer from Beaulah, Wyo. When she’s not writing, she’s riding her horse or playing with her grandson. She can be reached at