The ultra-rich are using philanthropic vehicles to shield their wealth—it’s time Congress acted, Chuck Collins writes in The Nation.
Kip Tom, the Leesburg Indiana farmer who will stand today with President Trump complaining about the federal estate tax, cashed over $3.3 million in farm subsidy checks, including $2.6 million between 2004 and 2014, the most recent data available.
Kip Tom and Tom Farms is one of the biggest corn and soybean producers in Indiana and the ninth largest farm subsidy recipient in Indiana.
Arriving at a total for Tom Farms subsidies required examining subsidies to three different ownership entities, as the farm went from individual ownership to an LLC in roughly 1995 and then formed Tom Farms Partners in 2004.
Between 2004 and 2014, Tom Farms Partners received $2,612,561 in subsidies, mostly commodity subsidies. Between 1996 and 2006, Tom Farms LLC cashed $667,732 in farm subsidy checks. In 1995, Kip Tom took in $42,826, but then refunded $17,494 for a net of $25,332. Between 1995 and 2014, this equals over $3,305,625 in government subsidies,
Over 41 of Indiana farmers do not receive any subsidies, according to the USDA.
The federal estate tax is a levy on the intergenerational transfer of immense wealth. The tax only applies to households with more than $11 million in assets. In Indiana, where President Trump kicked off his anti-estate tax campaign, fewer than one in 1,000 estates are subject to the estate tax, a grand total of only 70 people according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Republicans have been using farmers and ranchers for decades to justify estate tax repeal. I have written extensively about the history of using farmers as the face of estate tax repeal, instead of the billionaires and multi-millionaires who actually pay the tax, going back to 2000.
From the Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Database:
Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is co-editor of Inequality.org and the author of Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good.