Speech of National Center President Amy Moritz Ridenour at the Tax Day Rally

Speech of Amy Moritz Ridenour
National Center for Public Policy Research
Tax Day Rally
Lafayette Square, Across from the White House
April 15, 1997

When it comes to tax policy, there is no racial nor gender gap.

Let’s look at two groups big-tax advocates like to claim are helped by an ever-growing welfare state: women and minorities.

A poll conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide of 1,000 women found that only one issue — crime — was more important than pocketbook issues like high taxation for American women.

Women know that the economy affects their daily lives and shapes their family’s future. That’s why taxes and the health of the economy are more important to most women than issues typically identified as “women’s issues.” Women want take home more of what they earn.

Federal taxes are a family issue in many ways. A mother who must pay Clinton’s big government the same amount in taxes as she pays for her child’s food, clothing and shelter combined finds such a high rate of taxes to be not only burdensome, but immoral.

A mother who must work January through May before she starts to work for her family rather than the government, finds federal taxes immoral.

A mother who would rather spend more time at home with her children but can’t make ends meet if she works reduced hours because of excessive taxes, finds federal taxes immoral.

A mother that gives thirty-three percent of her income to big government to allow it to make the decisions she feels she should make, finds federal taxes immoral.

Female entrepreneurs who strive to see their businesses expand are frustrated to see their dreams diminish as big government bogs them down with excessive capital gains taxes and overreaching government regulations.

American businesswomen, who now control a third of all U.S. firms, know sluggish profits and the inability to hire more employees are partly to blame on excessive taxes producing a sluggish economy.

Professional women want more take home pay for their families so they can save for their children’s college education. They also want a balanced national budget for lower interest rates. Women find federal taxes and government regulation suffocating the American dream.

A similar situation holds true for America’s minority communities:

A Kennesaw State College (Marietta, GA) survey of the black businesses on Black Enterprise magazine’s top 100 list reveals that over 58% estimate that the long-term survival of their business after the death of the current owner(s) will be “significantly more difficult” to “impossible” because of federal taxes. Because black-run business are more likely to be family run than other businesses, the estate tax in particular hits black businesses especially hard.

On a 10-point scale with 10 being a major concern, more than half of Black Enterprise Magazine’s top 100 businesses rated the federal estate tax at least a nine.

The average top 100 black business surveyed had spent $67,914 planning to reduce the estate tax’s impact. These are funds that could have gone into business expansion, thereby creating more jobs, or into savings.

For the top 100 black firms where heirs were expected to inherit the businesses, 29% would have to sell all or part of their business to pay the estate tax. For 53% of the businesses, this would result in a loss of jobs.

The top 100 black-owned businesses are overwhelmingly family-run. 97% were closely-held or privately run family businesses. All are first generation-owned. On average, the businesses employ 2.4 family members on a full-time or part-time basis. Only 35% have stockholders who are not family members. All have created new jobs, an average of 27, in the last five years. The average business surveyed started in 1984 and currently employs 96 people. These are growing businesses our country should cherish. Instead, our current tax policy is their worst enemy and a threat to their very survival.

African-American Lonnie Thigpen, the son of 84 year-old Mississippi tree farmer Chester Thigpen, himself a grandson of slaves, and, with his wife, last year’s National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year, recently testified before the House Ways and Means Committee about the injustice of the estate tax. Said Thigpen: “We’re not rich people. My father and I do almost all the work on our land ourselves. Without estate tax reform, many [tree farmers’] properties will be broken up into smaller tracts or harvested prematurely. Some may no longer be economical to operate as tree farms and will perhaps be converted to other uses or back into marginal agriculture… My father and I planted some more trees not long ago. He knows he will not likely be here to see them mature. But he hopes that his grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to watch those trees grow on the Thigpen Tree Farm…”

Advocates of the big-tax welfare state like to tell Americans that the welfare state is good for America’s minority communities, but the facts are different. The high-tax welfare state keeps black family businesses from creating wealth and, most importantly, keeping their businesses intact. Big government is simply no friend to black-owned family businesses.

Too often, the enemies of tax control have portrayed advocates of tax limitation as rich and heartless. In fact, oppressive tax policies enrich only the state, and its advocates are the ones who are heartless.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.