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Seminar on the Estate & Tax Reform

On May 5, 2003 the New York Independent Women's Alliance (NYIWA) held a seminar titled "Estate & Tax Reform: Creating and Preserving Wealth" at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York City. The seminar was also sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA), the New York Chapter of the Federalist Society, and the New York chapter of the Ukrainian Engineers' Society of America.

The guests were greeted by Chrysanna Woroch of the New York Women's Alliance and then the speakers were introduced by moderator Wilma Moody. The speakers at the event included Patricia Soldano, Dick Patten, Charles Mooney and Karen Bailey.

Financial Seminar
Chrysanna Woroch of the NYIWA presents the seminar's speakers (left to right) Mr. Dick Patten, Ms. Patricia Soldano, Mr. Charles D. Mooney, Esq. And Ms. Karen Bailey

Mr. Patten, who is the executive director of the American Family Business Institute, was the evening's first speaker. He began by briefly reviewing his personal background which began with helping to his father grow their family business to the point where they eventually became Eastman Kodak's largest reprographics customer on the West Coast and the third largest business of its type in the nation.

Mr. Patten continued to describe how the Inheritance Tax, or "Death Tax" as he referred to it, puts family businesses at a competitive disadvantage with their publicly owned competitors. Not only do these taxes often force families to sell off their businesses and farms to pay the required estate taxes, but they also have a ripple effect on the economy as the employees of these family owned businesses lose their jobs. Ultimately, Mr. Patten contends, the federal government realizes a net reduction in the funds it collects as result of the Estate Taxes.

Mr. Patten also raised some interesting statistics:

  • 89% of U.S. businesses are family owned
  • 50% of the jobs in the U.S. are provided by family owned businesses
  • 70% to 87% of family owned businesses do not survive several generations under family ownership.

The next speaker was Ms. Soldano. She is the owner of a financial management company which manages family assets and coordinates estate planning and generation succession efforts.

Financial Seminar
Some of the attendees listening to the presentations

Ms Soldano continued the discussion about how the inheritance tax generates no net revenue for the federal government due to the extensive compliance and collection costs which are incurred. She also attempted to emphasize how nearly 50% of all estate taxes come from estates which are valued at less than $5 million. Although, this number seemed "high" for the average person, she emphasized that all assets of an estate are considered as taxable. This would include real estate, home furnishings, automobiles, retirement funds, bank accounts, family heirlooms etc.

The next speaker was Mr. Mooney who is a partner of the New York City Law firm McCanliss & Early LLP. His practice includes law in the areas of estate planning, taxation and nonprofit organizations. His presentation covered the topic of techniques for preserving a family's wealth across generations. He discussed items such as the "gift tax" and "generation skipping."

The final speaker of the evening was Ms. Bailey. She serves as a policy analyst for the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (ATR). The ATR was formed to work towards the idea of creating a system in which taxes are simpler, fairer, more visible and lower than they are today. They seek to eliminate forms of "double taxation" which includes items such as the capital gains tax, the inheritance tax, and the alternative minimum tax.

Financial Seminar
Ms. Bailey speaking on the "investor tax cuts" as Mr. Patten and Ms. Soldano listen

Ms. Bailey talk focused on the "double taxation" of stock dividends and the tax cuts proposed by Bush White House. She stressed that 60% of the American population can be classified as "investors" because of the fact that in addition to ownership of individual stocks, numerous Americans have their retirement savings invested in stock based 401K like plans. As a result, she contends, that the taxation of dividends is actually an additional tax on the working middle class.

The taxation of dividends does not only affect "rich people" but also people such as herself who are just beginning to save money into retirement plans. Further, she noted, that many retirees are dependent on dividend income due to their retirement savings plans.

In general, although this tax seminar focused on what may be termed as the "conservatives" view point on issues such as the inheritance tax and other forms of "double taxation" in did raise various interesting points and perspectives.

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