Congressman Owens released the following statement after a series of votes in Congress regarding the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and the estate tax, both of which are set to expire at current levels at the end of this year
"I believe we must keep taxes low for middle class families and small businesses in our community while not increasing the national debt by hundreds of billions of dollars with tax breaks for millionaires. As I have discussed at length with constituents in communities across the region, we simply cannot afford big handouts to the very wealthy.
"We must also continue the estate tax exemption and rate at current levels and not let the rate skyrocket and the exemption level plummet at the end of this year. The current law responsibly allows exemptions upwards of $10 million in assets, which will protect virtually all of the North Country from this tax.
"It's no secret that Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress do not see eye-to-eye on these two important tax issues. It is my hope that both sides can put partisan bickering aside and work together in the coming months for the good of our constituents."
BACKROUND OF TODAY'S VOTES:
The Republican plan, H.R. 8, presented an "all-or-nothing" approach to extending the Bush-era tax cuts. In the interest of keeping taxes at historic lows for the middle class, Congressman Owens voted to approve the legislation, which extends Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans. H.R. 8 is not expected to pass the Senate.
The Democratic plan, which was offered as a substitute amendment to strike the entire text of the Republican legislation, was identical to recently passed U.S. Senate legislation that extended Bush-era tax rates only for households earning less than $250,000. Unfortunately, the measure failed to address a scheduled hike in the estate tax. Current law subjects estates of $5 million and higher (or $10 million for married couples) to an estate tax of 35%, however these limits are set to expire at the end of the year. Without Congressional action, the estate tax will revert to a 55% tax on estates valued at $1 million and higher. In short, substantially more Americans including family farms and small businesses would be subject to a higher estate tax in the coming tax year, something Congressman Owens strongly opposes. Congressman Owens has supported the current estate tax level of $5 million at 35 percent since his first day in office. Due to this, Owens voted against the Democratic substitute amendment to H.R. 8.
Owens voted in favor of a more limited Democratic amendment to H.R. 8 that would have allowed Bush-era tax cuts to expire for those earning more than $1 million, while preserving extension of the estate tax at its current rate. This measure failed.
INCOME BREAKDOWN OF NEW YORK'S 23rd DISTRICT:
* The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 98.7% of households in New York's 23rd Congressional District would continue to benefit from tax cuts that are extended at the level supported by Owens.
* In 2009, less than 2,900 individuals in NY-23 reported an income of over $200,000 to the IRS. The 23rd Congressional District currently encompasses a population of 664,245 people.
* Nationwide, 97% of American small businesses would continue to benefit from the same tax cuts they have received for almost a decade under the tax rates supported by Owens.