Around New England

Connecticut Lawmakers Talk About Eliminating Death Tax

February 3, 2019

Some of the Democrats who control the Connecticut legislature are open to eliminating the state’s estate tax on the assets of wealthy residents who die, saying it’s driving older rich people out of the state.

Newly elected state Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport), a 22-year-old recent graduate of Georgetown University, has sponsored a bill that would phase out the so-called death tax, according to the Hartford Courant.

Another first-term legislator, state Senator Alexandra Bergstein (D-Westport), also supports getting rid of it. Leaders in the legislature say they’d consider it.

“Right now, Connecticut has the reputation as ‘the worst place to die,’ but by correcting our tax structure, we would make Connecticut ‘the best place to live’,” Bergstein said, according to the Hartford Courant.

The threshold estate value subject to the estate tax in 2018 was $2.6 million. In 2019, that figure is $3.6 million.

Connecticut has experienced serious problems with state budgets and economic growth during the past several years. Some have blamed the state’s tax structure.

Some legislators who support eliminating the state estate tax say they’d do so only with strings attached – such as trying to replace the lost tax revenue by increasing the state’s tax on capital gains, or requiring that Connecticut residents who want to escape the state’s estate tax do so by investing in high-risk venture capital in Connecticut.

Supporters of the estate tax say the revenue it generates is crucial to the state, and they like the idea of taxing the rich. Opponents, who include Republicans, say the estate tax hurts economic growth by driving retirees (and their money) away from Connecticut to no-estate-tax states like Florida. They also say it’s unfair to hinder or prevent business owners from leaving their legacy to their children.