Election season is in full swing, but many of us are still grappling with the choice we’ll be faced with on November 8th.
It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the most unpopular candidates in history, but — unfortunately — our collective distaste doesn’t excuse us from our civic responsibility. If we intend to play a part in the democratic process or in the shaping of this country’s future, we must choose a candidate.
Although there’s a whole host of factors to take into consideration, many Americans begin their decision process by learning about the way each candidate feels about the issues that will affect them, their families, and their business, and what exactly those candidates propose to do.
What are the most important issues for funeral directors? It probably depends on the state you live in — for example, you might have major concerns about sales tax if you live in California — but there are some serious concerns that are undoubtedly shared by all death care professionals. While neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has made specific policy suggestions relating to the funeral profession, the following issues could affect funeral directors and funeral home owners across the country.
Taxes and Economic Growth
Concerning ordinary income taxes, Trump hopes that establishing three brackets (instead of the seven we have today) with rates of 12%, 25%, and 33% will stimulate economic growth. While decreasing taxes on the highest tax bracket has not effectively stimulated the economy since the Reagan era, Trump is confident his new structure will.
Trump also has proposed lowering the top corporate tax rate to 15% (the tax rate is applied to profits made by corporations, not LLCs, partnerships or sole proprietorships). If your funeral home is registered as either incorporated or a corporation, this would apply to you. In addition, Donald Trump intends to place a “reasonable cap” on the deductibility of interest against the corporate income tax.
Donald Trump wishes to eliminate the estate tax altogether.
When it comes to tax rates on ordinary income, Clinton intends to add a 4% surtax on income higher than $5 million.
Clinton does not have a specific proposal in place yet for corporate taxes.
Hillary Clinton wishes to raise the estate tax to 45%, and to lower the estate tax exclusion to $3.5 million. The estate tax sounds like something that should matter to funeral home owners, as it applies to cash, real estate, stock, and other assets transferred from deceased person to their heirs, but realistically, few families will be affected by the estate tax. Roughly two of every 1,000 estates face the estate tax. On the other hand, if your funeral home has been very successful and you plan to leave millions behind for your family, this could be disappointing to them.
Hillary Clinton also has proposed the establishment of business tax credits for profit-sharing and apprenticeships. If your funeral home hires apprentices (a common licensing requirement for funeral directors and embalmers in many states), you would earn business tax credits for each one. She also believes that businesses should be given additional incentives for hiring young people.
Government Regulations, OSHA, and ACA
While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no standard specific to funeral homes, there are several regulations within OSHA’s Industry Standards Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 29 Part 1910 that apply to funeral homes.
Bloomberg BNA reported in June that, “A Donald Trump presidency wouldn’t spell the end of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration altogether, but it would almost certainly mean less enforcement and practically no rule making.” Many business owners — including funeral home owners — dislike heavy regulation and enforcement, making Donald Trump’s “hands-off” approach appealing.
Donald Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His plans for a replacement are currently unclear, as he has mentioned that he would replace the ACA with “something terrific.” He has also vaguely suggested implementing a system that would “return authority to the states and operate under free market principles,” though the Trump campaign seems to be keeping the specifics of such a plan to themselves for the time being.
Hillary Clinton supports many of the government policies enacted by President Obama. Bloomberg BNA reported in June that, “Hillary Clinton’s track record in the senate suggests that, if elected president, she would continue the Obama administration’s efforts to protect worker safety.” It certainly looks as though Hillary Clinton would press forward with proposed rules already in place, maintaining tough enforcement and potentially proposing budget increases.
While business owners aren’t typically fans of regulation, many workers are. Employees want to trust that they will be adequately protected from undue hazards or dangerous working conditions, especially those that work in industries affected (and governed) by OSHA. For this reason, business owners and their employees tend to stand on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to this type of regulation.
Hillary Clinton is a big proponent of the Affordable Care Act and does not intend to repeal it. The ACA requires businesses with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance coverage, though the coverage rule does not apply to employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week. Employers who do not follow these guidelines can face fines. While the Affordable Care Act has helped millions of uninsured Americans gain health insurance coverage, many business owners argue that the burden they carry as a result is too much to bear.
Spilled or used formaldehyde is considered hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency, which means that there are specific rules and guidelines governing its storage, usage, and disposal. Biohazardous waste, also called infectious waste or biomedical waste, is also regulated by the government.
Donald Trump wishes to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. If that happened, funeral directors would face less regulation (perhaps none at all) regarding the hazardous or biohazardous waste, or other environmental restrictions regarding funeral and burial practices. After all, the EPA is charged with implementing laws like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Hillary Clinton’s position on the Environmental Protection Agency, and the environment generally, could not be more dissimilar. Clinton launched the EPA study of air quality at Ground Zero and was recently endorsed by two former administrators of the EPA. She also has an extensive plan to fight climate change and environmental injustice. It’s safe to assume that environmental regulations might be tightened under a Clinton presidency, including some that might impact the way your funeral home operates.
Are there issues we haven’t included here that you feel are important to you as a funeral director? Leave us a comment and let us know.
Frazer Consultants will continue to monitor policy speeches through the general election season and update this article accordingly. Sign up for our newsletter below to stay up-to-date.