MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesotans are like everyone else when it comes to the end of our lives. But unlike 31 other states, some of us pay estate taxes after we’re gone… and it’s not popular.

“That flies in the face of what our country is all about,” said Rep. Sarah Anderson, (R) Plymouth.

Minnesota’s estate tax kicks in for property valued above $1.2 million dollars, and that number will go up to $2 million by 2018. Republicans want to raise it even further to $5 million, claiming families are losing farms to pay taxes.

Democrats say they don’t buy it.

“Nationwide, more Americans have been to the moon than farmers paid the estate tax,” said Rep. Carly Melin, (DFL) Hibbing.

The “man on the moon” claim comes from liberal comedian Bill Maher, and it’s mostly true according to Politifact. It’s based on federal taxes for property valued above $5 million dollars.

Only a handful of those are farms.

In Minnesota, state law already exempts farms and small businesses from the estate tax: up to $5 million. A surviving spouse pays no tax, nor descendants if they keep farming for 3 years.

But this issue is generating charges of “class warfare” from Democrats like Rep. Tom Anzelc, (DFL) Balsam Township, who says the richest Minnesotans should pay more.

“This is Minnesota. Minnesotans share.” he said.

Republicans call it a “death tax” on income and property that’s already been taxed during life.

“Share the wealth?” asked Rep. Jerry Hertaus, (R) Greenfield. “If you have to share the wealth through the force of law, you’re not free to refuse!”

Nationally, the top 1 percent of earners pays 80 percent of the estate tax.

According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, 800 families will pay estate taxes in 2015. If the exemption rises to property valued above $5 million, 100 Minnesotans will pay the tax, but few of them are farmers.

Selected Sources:

Pat Kessler

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