Staff

Earl Bierman – Chief of Staff
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: Earl.Bierman@legislature.maine.gov

Rob Poindexter – Communications Director
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: Rob.Poindexter@legislature.maine.gov

Ben Grant – Legislative Aide
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: Ben.Grant@legislature.maine.gov

Ryan Lorrain – Legislative Aide
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: Ryan.Lorrain@legislature.maine.gov

Clarke Reiner – Legislative Aide
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: Clarke.Reiner@legislature.maine.gov

Craig Slavin – Legislative Aide
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: Craig.Slavin@legislature.maine.gov

Ed Ford – Legislative Aide
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: Edward.Ford@legislature.maine.gov

David Knorr – Legislative Aide
Phone: 207-287-1440
Email: David.Knorr@legislature.maine.gov

 

One Comment on “Staff

  1. An interchange with my Republican State Senator led me to do some further research on the Estate Tax, both Maine and Federal. I have sent the results of that research to him, to the Democratic Leadership in the Maine Legislature, and now to my State Representative and the Republican Leadership. My findings are as follows:

        First:  The Federal Estate Tax calculation for 2015 now allows an Exclusion from tax of the first $5.43 million of an estate plus up to $1.1 million extra for a family farm.  There has been an Exclusion of at least $1.5 million since 2004, increasing several times to the current Exclusion. The example my Senator gave of a $3 million family farm where he thought the heirs would have to pay $1.5 million in Federal and State taxes would actually not result in any Federal Estate Tax.  Further, the 40% Federal rate he thought they would have to pay is actually the highest on a long list of a graduated rates; and it would only apply if what is left AFTER subtracting the $5.43 million Exclusion amounted to $1 million or more.

        Second:  Any mortgage on such a farm as well as other Estate debt would also be deductible from the value of the Estate, further reducing the Federally taxable amount. The Fed 40% looks like it kicks in only when more than $1 million is left AFTER exclusions and deductions have been taken out.  Lower rates apply to remainders less than $1 million.

        Third:  The Maine Estate Tax is “only” 8% on Estates of $2 to $5 million (not the 12% my Senator indicated); 10% from $5 to $8 million; 12% only applies above $8 million.  My senator thought that the 12% applied to all Estates over $2 million. However, the first $2 million is exempt.  Therefore, the $3 million farm heirs would only have to come up with $80,000 to pay Maine Estate taxes on the $1 million left after the exemption. They might even be allowed to do it in installments. They would still be left with $2.92 million in inheritance.  And they would have no Federal Estate Tax to pay.  
     
        Fourth:  My State Senator was concerned that people are leaving Maine for residence in states like Florida with more favorable Estate Tax treatment. I was surprised to find that, according to OneHedge.com, Maine has a number millionaire households, meaning households with $1 million or more in assets, similar to the country as a whole:  In 2013, 4.69 % of Maine households had $1 million or more in assets. The nationwide percentage was 5%.  Further, our population of households with $1 million or more in assets actually increased in 2013 compared to 2012, moving us from 36th on the list to 25th.  In fact, Maine was second only to North Dakota in the rate of increase in millionaire households. So the outmigration of seniors like me must be mostly the ones with less than $1 million in assets, leaving a greater percentage of the rich behind.  Either that, or wealthy people are actually choosing to move to Maine. Or, the rich already in Maine are getting richer.  Or all of the above.  The “Rich Flight” to which my Republican Senator referred seems NOT to be OUT of Maine but rather INTO Maine, even with our current Estate Tax.
     
    When I think about the information that I discovered above, I have far less concern about protecting the wealth and Estates of the richest Mainers.  It looks to me like the existing law does a great job of that.  If 4.69% of Maine Households have $ 1 million in assets or more, that leaves 95.31 % of people with less than that.  That means about 95% of Maine people’s families will not benefit at all by doing away with the Estate Tax.  Only the wealthiest 5% will benefit.  In fact, the only members of the 5% who would benefit are those with Estates over $2 Million after exemptions and deductions.  Furthermore, the number of millionaires in Maine is increasing, not decreasing.  Apparently, Maine has something to offer that attracts the rich even without doing more to protect their Estates.  Finally, if the equality we want to tout for Americans is equality of OPPORTUNITY, rather than equality of assets or income, then what is wrong with having a tax system that makes it harder for the children of the rich to get an artificial financial head start or boost when their parents die?  Shouldn’t they have to start from a position more similar to the children of the 95% of households whose assets are less than $1 million?  Wouldn’t that be a classic example of a fair leveling of the playing field, of equality of opportunity? I have a hard time believing that I would have been disadvantaged if my parents had left me, say, a $6 million estate and I could exlude $5.4 million-plus from federal taxes and $2 million from state Taxes.  I would still end up with a tidy nest egg after taxes, wouldn’t I, even if I had to sell some assets to pay the taxes?
     
    So, when it comes to working on and voting on the Governor’s tax proposal, I hope that Members of the Legislature from both parties will seriously consider removing the piece devoted to eliminating the Estate Tax.  It seems to me that an Estate Tax is one of the fairest taxes one could levy, since the owner of the Estate is no longer around; and the heirs are getting free money.  It really seems to me that eliminating the Estate tax for the benefit of only, at most, a portion of the 5% of Maine Households with $1 million or more in assets is really not democracy in action, it is oligarchy in action.  And that sounds more like the way England ruled America before our Revolution or Russia before the overthrow of the Czars. 
     
    I feel privileged to be a United States citizen.  I feel especially privileged to live in Maine, and blessed to be in Aroostook County.  I also feel that it is a privilege as well as a responsibility to pay taxes.  I would feel especially privileged if I had an estate so large that my children would actually have to pay a Federal Tax and a State Tax on its proceeds.
     
    What do you think? 
     
    Sincerely,
    Michael A. Fasulo
    Linneus
     
        
     

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: