Advocates of estate tax repeal often assert that family-run businesses and farms are broken up when heirs are unable to pay the estate tax. This claim has never been proven, but a recent Joint Economic Committee report claims to demonstrate that it is true. I assess the arguments and evidence presented in the JEC report and find that there is nothing in it that proves that the estate tax breaks up family-run businesses and farms. In fact, the most credible source cited by the report suggests that families might have adequate liquid resources to pay the estate tax or even that business owners do not bother to take advantage of opportunities to allow their heirs to pay the estate tax.
Neil H. Buchanan, The Jec's Estate Tax Report: Myths and Legends, 111 Tax Notes 1133 (2006).