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Tilting at Windmills

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June 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ESTATE TAX CHARTOLOGY.... I do love me some charts. Like a zombie that refuses to die, the Senate is getting ready to repeal the estate tax yet again, having abandoned last year's attempt because even to Republicans it seemed kind of crass in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This chart, from the fine folks at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, shows how low the actual estate tax rates would be under a more modest reform that exempted estates under $3.5 million and capped the top rate at 45%. The Paris Hiltons of the world would still end up paying no more on their inheritances than most middle-class workers pay on their ordinary income. Seems fair to me.

Needless to say, this is still unacceptable to the barons of the Republican Party, who want to repeal the tax altogether and are being amply rewarded for their fealty to the wealthiest families in America. Other fun facts:

  • Under the $3.5 million/45% plan, we would retain 60% of the revenue that we get from the current estate tax. This would pay for about half of the projected Social Security shortfall.

  • 99.7% of all estates would pay no tax at all.

  • Only 50 (that's "fifty," not "fifty thousand") farms and small business would owe any estate tax.

  • Conversely, repealing the estate tax entirely would cost nearly $1 trillion over ten years. That's "trillion," not "billion."

More charts here. "Myths and Realities" here. An estate tax blog here. The Coalition for America's Priorities has more information here, including fun state-by-state data.

Kevin Drum 5:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (107)

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Comments

Sheee-it, Kevin! How do you expect people to work hard and make this country Great if you don't let them hand billions over to their kids tax-free?

We'll just keep borrowing half-a-trillion from the Chinese every year! No sweat!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 1, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is sooo off-topic that it almost makes me sound like a paid Repug troll -- but my wife, who works in the tech publishing industry emails me that "AOL has been suffering massive internal system failures today and is asking that no one email any AOL address."

Posted by: JoeS on June 1, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

You know there are going to be quite a few lawyers and accountants who are going to be off the gravy train if they completely do away with the estate tax. What will these professionals do with their extra time? It is not likely to benefit society, of that you can be sure.

Posted by: terry on June 1, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

I always liked the idea of forcing heirs to take a zero tax-basis in any non-cash assets they receive from the deceased.

Posted by: Ugh on June 1, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Figures the Party of Death is in favor of the Death Tax. What do I do if I can't pay?

Posted by: American Fuck on June 1, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

You liberals just can't stand the fact that some people are wealthy, can you? Guess who that mentality reminds me of: Yup, al-Qaeda. They're infuriated by the fact that some people here in America are living better than 99% of the world can possibly imagine, and apparently so is Kevin Drum.

The ability to make massive amounts of money, spend without any consideration of social responsibility, and then pass it along unfettered to offspring who have done nothing to earn it is one of the time-honored traditions that has made America the greatest country in the world. Why are you socialist liberals so intent on destroying that?

Posted by: American Hawk's stand-in on June 1, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why do 99.7% of Americans hate America?

Posted by: craigie on June 1, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's just amazing that a man as perspicacious as Kevin Drum continues to attempt to force Farm families off the homestead for purely partisan purposes.
It's really, really simple, Kevin.
Even before 9/11 President Bush was determined to halt those who would allow the Salt of the Earth to be washed from our land.
And, as we all now know well, CBPP is short for Communist Buggers For Pennilessness Propaganda and VERY active supporters of terrorists -- including Al Queda.
Our President continues to take the fight to the enemy whether here or, over there, or down there, or wherever.
Is that simple enough for you, Kevin?

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 1, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

STRAWMAN ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: some on June 1, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I bet 295 million of us could take those 50 families in a fair fight. How tough can they be? For one thing, none of them has ever had a job...

Posted by: craigie on June 1, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

I say do away with the estate tax but also tax ALL capital gains as of date of death. This is the way it's done in Canada and I believe it's fairer for all.

Posted by: Ian S on June 1, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

I would rather the rich pay there way through life than bleed me of my pennies.I would tell them there tax cut went to Iraq,that will make them happy and shut them up.

Posted by: Tax Jack on June 1, 2006 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

This would be fair,Those who bennefit the most pay more in taxes.

Posted by: Tax Jack on June 1, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I make about fifty thousand a year, is it wrong of me to not want to pay anymore taxes then the kid down at walmart making min. wage?

Posted by: now on June 1, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

But how else can we punish the poor?

Posted by: Al on June 1, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin - those rates are calculated using an assumption that is likely in error. The assumption being that the reported values at estate time equal the true value of the assets transferred. But often the reported values are much lower than their fair market value. Something to do with appraisals who whore themselves for a fee. If we could redo the analysis based on fair market valuations, the effective rates would be lower - often much lower.

Posted by: pgl on June 1, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Somebeody from Canada correct me if I'm wrong, but if IU understand correctly, the way they do it has a certain logic:

When you die, someone files a final income tax return for you that includes all your unrealized, untaxed gains. No estate tax, just an income tax, but nothing escapes it (over certain exemptions, of course).

Posted by: Libby Sosume on June 1, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Pierre might be elated to know that not a single family has ever lost the family farm when they had to pay estate taxes. Lord - some canards just never die.

Posted by: pgl on June 1, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

As a new immigrant, I have learnt about American system in many different ways, including through the fiction by famous American writers such as Hemingway. In particular, I read Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" about 15 years back, which is about Spanish civil war written from the point of view of an American, Robert Jordan. Robert is fighting alongside with Spanish against the Fascists.

I still remember a conversation between Robert and another Spanish guy called Primitivo about Estate tax:

Robert Jordan...explained how the income tax and the inheritance tax worked.

"But the big estates remain. Also there are taxes on the land," he said.

"But surely the big proprietors and the rich will make a revolution against such taxes. Such taxes appear to me to be revolutionary. They will revolt against the government when they see that they are threatened, exactly as the fascists have done here," Primitivo said.

"It is possible."

"Then you will have to fight in your country as we fight here."

"Yes, we will have to fight."

http://thepeskyfly.blogspot.com/2005/04/for-whom-bell-tolls.html

Posted by: AKM on June 1, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

I should add that their income tax rates, including the provincial add-ons, are fairly high: about 54% in Ontario. But then, their provincial taxes go to finance a comprehensive health care system, too.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on June 1, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Th. Jefferson was VERY positive about the Estate Tax. Of course, that's what the Revolutionary War was all about, imposing the Estate Tax. We had spent years and years as the property of the Great Inheritors in England, and Jefferson and the founders wanted NO MORE of that.

We should INCREASE the estate tax, and give Paris Hilton the best gift of all: the need to obtain gainful employement, and to stop being a maggoty parasite.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 1, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

POed lib I hate to say this but she has many jobs and gets paid pretty well for her emploment.

Posted by: now on June 1, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Figures the Party of Death is in favor of the Death Tax. What do I do if I can't pay?

Have your buddy Jesus resurrect you, and you can work it off.

Posted by: tom on June 1, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: You know, I bet 295 million of us could take those 50 families in a fair fight. How tough can they be? For one thing, none of them has ever had a job.

Bwa! Well done, toots.

Posted by: shortstop on June 1, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: I bet 295 million of us could take those 50 families in a fair fight.

What is this "fair" fight of which you speak?

Oh, one person, one vote. No, no, no. One dollar, one vote. A common misconception.

Posted by: alex on June 1, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I bet 295 million of us could take those 50 families in a fair fight. How tough can they be? For one thing, none of them has ever had a job...
Posted by: craigie on June 1, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Pitchforks and torches man. Pitchforks and torches.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 1, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Let them drop the estate tax and just treat all inherited income as regular taxable income.

What? Too simple?

Posted by: Thumb on June 1, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see a thread on a related topic. This same bill has been introduced every year since I can remember, even when the Democrats controlled the House and Senate.

How come the Democrats do not, evey year, introduce a bill for some sort of expansion/universal health care?

Or, if they are, how come one never hears about it?

Posted by: hank on June 1, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.metaphor.dk/guillotine/Pages/drawing1792.html

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 1, 2006 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

"[W]hen next our system of taxation is revised, the National Government should impose a graduated inheritance tax, and, if possible, a graduated income tax. The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the State, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government. Not only should he recognize this obligation in the way he leads his daily life and in the way he earns and spends his money, but it should also be recognized by the way in which he pays for the protection the State gives him."--Theodore Roosevelt, 1906 State of the Union Address

The Republican Party has lost its soul.

Posted by: rea on June 1, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Note that, IIRC, the Rockefellers pass all of their wealth tax-free to their heirs through trusts set-up before the estate tax was created, which has a grandfather rule (going back to 1913, again, IIRC).

Posted by: Ugh on June 1, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Please, we need MORE estate taxation, not less. How am I supposed to get a job in this field after I get out of law school if the rich don't need me to avoid paying Uncle Sam?

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on June 1, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

hank: How come the Democrats do not, evey year, introduce a bill for some sort of expansion/universal health care?

Democrat = Republican Lite

rea: The Republican Party has lost its soul.

Teddy figured that out in 1912, when he ran on the Bull Moose ticket. When he was a Republican, he was part of the progressive wing. That pretty much died when he left.

BTW, I think that quote is especially interesting because Teddy was rich. Kind of like Warren Buffett today defending the estate tax, it has a lot of clout.

Posted by: alex on June 1, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't matter if punishing the rich is useful, it's still wrong. You're basically saying to them, "You played by the rool and paind taxes on your income all your life. We're going to tax you again, just because we can.". It's abjectly unfair, no matter how much you hate america's most productive citizens.

the uncalled for comparison to paris hilton is just another liberal slur.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 1, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party has lost its soul.
Posted by: rea on June 1, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

No. They sold it. And got good money for it.

the uncalled for comparison to paris hilton is just another liberal slur.
Posted by: American Hawk on June 1, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to hurt your feelings. Maybe if the folks on the right stop referring to Liberals as Communists or Stalinists, some civility could return to politics. But then again, as this topic demonstrates, there's far too much money at stake for the luxury of civility.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 1, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Note that, IIRC, the Rockefellers pass all of their wealth tax-free to their heirs through trusts set-up before the estate tax was created, which has a grandfather rule (going back to 1913, again, IIRC). Posted by: Ugh

It's interesting to listen to the kind of people defending the elimination of the estate tax - many of the same morons (there is no other name for them, okay, idiots, fools, assholes) who bought the nonsense about tax cuts - people who are not affected (adversely) by the former and saw no benefit from the latter.

Take a look at the Forbes or Fortune 500 list. A good number of the U.S. contingent are trust funders, the children, grandchildren, and in the case of the really old families, great grandchildren of the robber barons from the Gilded Age. In short, they inherited their wealth, and most of this group has done nothing to expand or preserve it other than having good investment managers.

Posted by: JeffII on June 1, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Thumb,

actyually an idea worth considering. Under current law, the inheritor receives a stepped up tax basis equivalent to market value date of death. If we changed the law so the inheritor received the deceased's tax basis, all the unrealized gains would eventually be taxed, but not until the property is sold. That would include securities, stocks and bonds.

Likewise personal property, which would be taxed IF it is ever sold for more than its original cost. (Most never reported, but we could tighten enforcement up with respect to art and valuables).

Cash assets have generally already been taxed to the deceased. They would be received tax free.

I'm no wonk, but it would be a rational basis for taxation.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on June 1, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

"It doesn't matter if punishing the rich is useful, it's still wrong. You're basically saying to them, 'You played by the rool and paind taxes on your income all your life. We're going to tax you again, just because we can.'."

Perhaps you are unaware of this, Mr. Hawk, but the tax isn't paid by people who die. There would be certain obvious impractialities with such a system. Instead, the tax is paid out of the assets that would otherwise go to the dead person's heirs. The heirs haven't paid taxes on the money before.

As TR pointed out to Congress in 1906, the rich are rich because of the protection of the state--otherwise, their riches would simply be taken by the next stronger, better armed, or more clever person they meet. They benefit disproportionately; therefore it is just that they pay more.

Posted by: rea on June 1, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

A friend of mine, a successful entrepreneur himself, is all for the estate tax. He does not want it repealed, even though he built his wealth himself and wants to leave it to his kids. The estate tax helps the next generation of entrepreneurs by leveling the field.

Posted by: Laura on June 1, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Cash assets have generally already been taxed to the deceased. They would be received tax free."

Oh, I see. I pay taxes on my income; therefore, if I hire you to work for me, you shouldn't have to pay taxes, right? After all, I've already paid taxes on that money, haven't I? (Although, come to think of it, the guy I work for has also paid taxes, as did all the people he works for . . . maybe nobody should have to pay taxes?)

What's that you say? My income tax example is different than the case of a millionaire heir paying the estate tax? You're right ! In my example, you've earned your money, while the millionaire heir has done nothing to earn money except exercise good judgment in the choice of parents. Obviously, justice requires that you, and not the millionaire heir, pay taxes . . .

Posted by: rea on June 1, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK
You know, I bet 295 million of us could take those 50 families in a fair fight.
Actually, it would only be those who are in favor of the death tax, which is the minority of the 295 million (hence the continuous word play by folks like Mr. Drum....it's necessary because you guys lose the issue on a continual basis and are considered the party of "taxes"). My guess is that the number is closer to the moveon.org email list, but that's just a wild guess.
For one thing, none of them has ever had a job...
Green is never a pretty color, especially when worn by those on the bottom rungs of the ladder. Posted by: Penthouse Pauper on June 1, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

All of the proposals to "eliminate" the estate tax also eliminate the step up in capital basis at death, including the current law in effect for 2010.

As a result, its simply a swap between the capital gains rates (which no heir pays, because currently all of the assets recieve a step up in basis to the date of death value) and the estate tax rates.

Furthermore, its pretty difficult to amass a taxable, multi-million dollar estate without appreciated assets, so really, any estate which is large enought to be subject to the tax contains assets which have not been taxed before.

At any rate, tax planning alone has always been a relatively small part of overall estate planning.

Posted by: hank on June 1, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK
therefore, if I hire you to work for me, you shouldn't have to pay taxes, right?
To follow the employment laws, you'd assign his salary to the business costs column and you'd pay taxes on your TAXABLE income. His salary is a deduction. Therefore he pays taxes on his taxable income.
My income tax example is different than the case of a millionaire heir paying the estate tax?
Yes, it is. They're not jealously attempting to confiscate more from you for no other reason than they're mad that you accomplished less than they did, whereas you're doing it for the reason that they've accomplished more thus you think they can afford it.

Earn it yourselves.

Posted by: Penthouse Pauper on June 1, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it would only be those who are in favor of the death tax,

To which I would repete, call an inheritence what it is: INCOME to those RECIEVING the money. Get it? Income. Receiving. I know you're not very bright (or you're a paid shill to play an idiot on the boards), but income tax is something THE REST OF US PAY. Why are you in favor of everyone paying income (as in "inbound money") taxes except the wealthiest among us?

Like rea said, I paid taxes on my money, why should the plumber pay again when I pay him? Because we all have to. The Waltons and Hiltons should too. That's not envy, it's equality.

Posted by: Thumb on June 1, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

A friend of mine, a successful entrepreneur himself, is all for the estate tax. He does not want it repealed, even though he built his wealth himself and wants to leave it to his kids. The estate tax helps the next generation of entrepreneurs by leveling the field.

Yes, but Laura that's an apples to oranges comparison. Entrepenuers are not really the ones to benefit from this repeal, you have to get up into the top 1% of the income bracket, where it's all inherited wealth, not wealth one generation removed from the work that earned it, but wealth like GWB's that is all a matter of financial inertia, not innovation or hardwork. In GWB's case you could even say that the most work he's done are his attempts to lose the money of family, friends and investors.

But if you add up what the Bush Cabinet stands to save if the estate tax is repealed, you get an idea of why this is a priority for the administration: as much as $344 million.

Posted by: cyntax on June 1, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Penthouse Pauper/rw@rjwest.com

Is that you Ricky?

Posted by: Thumb on June 1, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

It takes wealth of $1 Billion dollars to make it into the top 400 families in America. Just fyi, here is a list of the top 15 richest people in America. Their fortunes are in billions:

1 Gates, William H III $43,000 Microsoft
2 Buffett, Warren Edward $36,000 Berkshire Hathaway
3 Allen, Paul Gardner $21,000 Microsoft
4 Walton, Alice L $18,800 Wal-Mart
4 Walton, Helen R $18,800 Wal-Mart
4 Walton, Jim C $18,800 Wal-Mart
4 Walton, John T $18,800 Wal-Mart
4 Walton, S Robson $18,800 Wal-Mart
9 Ellison, Lawrence Joseph $15,200 Oracle
10 Ballmer, Steven Anthony $11,900 Microsoft
11 Dell, Michael $11,200 Dell Computer
12 Kluge, John Werner $10,500 Metromedia
13 Mars, Forrest Edward Jr $10,000 candy
13 Mars, Jacqueline $10,000 candy
13 Mars, John Franklyn $10,000 candy

I get how I did my part to make those Microsoft executives so unbelievably rich, the candy heirs as well. All those hours sitting at my computer (a Dell as it happens) savoring chocolate.

But Walmart? There perhaps is the red/blue state divide in a nutshell.

In any case, so much money concentrated in so few hands! It just can't end up well.

Posted by: PTate in MN on June 1, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe you guys can implement taxation on families who give Christmas gifts to their kids every December 25th and call it the "santa clause tax" since it's obviously "income" to the little rascals.

Or, to be more correct, only on those families that earn $1 more than you do.

BTW, the word "repeat" has an "a" in it.

Posted by: Penthouse Pauper on June 1, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Penthouse Pauper: Maybe you guys can implement taxation on families who give Christmas gifts to their kids every December 25th and call it the "santa clause tax" since it's obviously "income" to the little rascals.

We had it. It's called a gift tax (applies to Hannukah gifts too). Like the estate tax though, it only kicked in on amounts well in excess of $1M. Not sure how much that big teddy bear I got on Christmas when I was five cost, but I suspect I was safe in not filing for the gift tax.

Posted by: alex on June 1, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

The primary beneficiaries of an estate tax are lawyers and life insurance companies.

Gee, two of my favorite groups. And then there is...

"...To which I would repete, call an inheritence what it is: INCOME to those RECIEVING the money. Get it? Income. Receiving. I know you're not very bright (or you're a paid shill to play an idiot on the boards), but income tax is something THE REST OF US PAY. Why are you in favor of everyone paying income (as in "inbound money") taxes except the wealthiest among us?..."

Under no theory of accounting or taxation I know is receiving an inheritance an income tax event. Lots of 'inbound money" is not income. Duh.

Posted by: save the rustbelt on June 1, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

Alex, fyi, that would be privy to the "families that earn $1 more than you do" part.

But that's just the gift tax part, Alex, didn't you know that your teddy bear was "income"? All those dad's who give their kids cars when they turn 16 are giving them INCOME and in most cases that would be five-figures. Throw in the lunch money (every weekday for 10 months is going to add up) and I smell tax evasion!

Posted by: Penthouse Pauper on June 1, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Their fortunes are in billions

i believe that's millions. Gates never had $43 trillion.

Posted by: cleek on June 1, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

He didn't? Then why did I marry him?

Posted by: Bill's wife on June 1, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

cleek: "i believe that's millions. Gates never had $43 trillion."

millions, billions, trillions. Oops!
:)

Posted by: PTate in MN on June 1, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Under no theory of accounting or taxation I know is receiving an inheritance an income tax event. Lots of 'inbound money" is not income. Duh.

I wasn't saying it was, I was saying it should be. Duh.


Maybe you guys can implement taxation on families who give Christmas gifts to their kids every December 25th and call it the "santa clause tax" since it's obviously "income" to the little rascals.

Oh, I see. If the Walton kids have to pay taxes on the billions they get from mom & dad, then we need to start taxing five year olds for their $3 teddy bears. Did I get that right?

Tell me Ricky West, um, I mean Penthouse Poser, is "WAAAAAH" spelled with five As or six?

Posted by: Thumb on June 1, 2006 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you in favor of everyone paying income (as in "inbound money") taxes except the wealthiest among us?

Well, because the Paris Hiltons of the world have "accomplished" so much and were so successful--why should they have to pay taxes on money they didn't earn?
Compared to Penthouse Puppet, I suppose Paris Hilton is a successful genius.

Posted by: haha on June 1, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: lami on June 1, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK
Did I get that right?
No, as I stated that it would most likely be that it would only pertain to those who earned $1 more than folks like yourself.

In fact, I've had "repete"[sic] it twice.

Posted by: Penthouse Pauper on June 1, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

rea, I don't kniow what you are arguing with me about. I am not in favor of repealing the estate tax. But if it is, in response to a suggestion by someone else, I suggested a rational way of modifying the income tax rules to make up the loss. Simply make the tax basis in the inheritor's hands the same as the tax basis in the hands of the deceased. That waym, when and if they ever sell, an income tax (capital gains) will be paid. I have no idea whether this will make up the majority of the loss. But as I noted earlier, Canada doesn't have an estate tax, it applies an income tax to the accumulated (untaxed, unrealized) gains. Under such an income tax only system, nobody could argue that money was taxed twice, nor would there be a tax on an inheritance, per se. There would simply be an income tax on the accretions of value, and it would be paid by who ever sold the asset.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on June 1, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think its really creepy when people get hot under the collar defending a future tax break that they will never live to receive.

Are they worried about their children and greandchildren? If so, why don't these same people get hot under the collar about growing a debt they will never live to pay (but their children and grandchildren presumably will be stuck with)?

(Unless the rapture comes first, of course.)

Posted by: Libby Sosume on June 1, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, I've had "repete"[sic] it twice.

Mote. Eye.

Heh.

Posted by: Thumb on June 2, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but these rich families can keep putting into the system at least as much as I do. Why should I cry over them paying their fare share. How many of you supporting their case have enough assets to even face an estate tax? Do you even know if you qualify?

Boycott the family companies involved.

Posted by: omonubi on June 2, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

I think its really creepy when people get hot under the collar defending a future tax break that they will never live to receive.

Useful idiots.

Posted by: Thumb on June 2, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

It's even worse. Estates consist largely of accumulated gains on property, stocks, bonds, etc. which have NEVER been taxed. You and me, we make a good stock investment and cash out, we pay capital gains on the profit. Heirs to the Wal Mart fortune don't have to pay, absent an estate tax.

Posted by: DK2 on June 2, 2006 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

"rea, I don't kniow what you are arguing with me about. I am not in favor of repealing the estate tax."

Well, your own heart may be in the right place, but when you talk about the estate tax as being somehow double taxation, you're repeating looney wingnut nonsense.

It's an inheritance tax, not a death tax, in other words.

Posted by: rea on June 2, 2006 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

>They're not jealously attempting to confiscate more from you for no other reason than they're mad that you accomplished less than they did,

They fucking accomplished living until their rich parents croaked. Nothing else.

And any money we don't "confiscate" from them we have to pay, unless you can get your beloved Republican Party to put the brakes on spending.

It IS NOT THEIR MONEY. It's their parents' money, and those individuals are now dead, so they don't need it anymore. The silver-spooners can come out here with their Andover and Harvard educations and earn their way on a daily basis like the rest of us.

Posted by: doesn't matter on June 2, 2006 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Like a zombie that refuses to die

At the risk of seeming pedantic, as a huge fan of zombie movies -- even the lamer Italian ones -- I must point out that a zombie is already dead. Perhaps a better phrase would be "Like a zombie that refuses to stay dead."

Thank you. Carry on.

Posted by: Gregory on June 2, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

You know there are going to be quite a few lawyers and accountants who are going to be off the gravy train if they completely do away with the estate tax. What will these professionals do with their extra time? It is not likely to benefit society, of that you can be sure.
Posted by: terry

Well, no. Exactly the opposite.

In fact since this would end the lovely little gravy train called 'automatic step-up in basis to date of death value', it would be a gigantic bonanza to accountants in terms of determining basis in the hands of the decendent.

Posted by: CFShep on June 2, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

So more and more people end up stuck paying the AMT every year while a handful of ultra-rich get a tax break so that their kids can be ultra-rich without lifting a finger. Gee, that seems fair.

A wonder how much the Walton kids would be worth if their father hadn't left them a fortune.

Posted by: Stephen on June 2, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Something to do with appraisals who whore themselves for a fee. If we could redo the analysis based on fair market valuations, the effective rates would be lower - often much lower.
Posted by: pgl

Pretty much an open secret that many appraisers want to know what use the appraisal will support. They then tailor the result: 'very high' for donations and 'very low' for estate tax/gift tax.

There's a lot of 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge' involved. You'll see some real weirdness in valuations on so-called 'like kind exchanges' - a lovely little tax dodge.

Posted by: CFShep on June 2, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Libby (and all),

Actually every version of estate tax repeal I have seen does do any with "stepped up basis" for inherited assets. The revenue loss estimates take that into account. But what that also means is that for the 99.7% of people below the exemption level, ESTATE TAX REPEAL IS A TAX INCREASE, albeit one that doesn't kick in until you sell Grandpa Al's house. What're more it's a paperwork nightmare because you need to find out what Grandpa Al paid for his house in 1952, and how much he put into renovating it since then, in order to calculate your taxes. Estate tax repeal would be a disaster for everyone who's currently exempt-- which is almost everyone (except the 100 richest families).

Posted by: Doh on June 2, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative ideology has always been based on convenient myths.

Posted by: Nemesis on June 2, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

the uncalled for comparison to paris hilton is just another liberal slur.

This is the Paris Hilton Sex Tape Support Tax Cut. To ensure that Paris can continue to buy video cameras to video her little doggy act, the Repukes want to cut this most American of taxes.

We need to RAISE, RAISE, RAISE the estate tax. Inherited wealth is the most terrible of poxes. Upward mobility requires that the playing field be leveled.

Raise the Paris Hilton Video Camera Tax. Force Paris to get a job and do something useful.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 2, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

A wonder how much the Walton kids would be worth if their father hadn't left them a fortune.

Considering how incompetently most of them have handled their money, they would be running a 7-11 somewhere on the night shift.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 2, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

This is a great discussion about the estate tax, and it seems we all agree that this is completely irresposnsible of Senator Frist to bring the Kyl bill(S.420) to repeal the estate tax (aka Paris Hilton Benefit Act) to the Senate floor for a vote next week.

With a vote coming next week I would ask everyone to contact your Senators and tell them how you feel about this legislation. I work with the Coalition for America's Priorities and we are spreading the workd about the vote and urigng everyone to take action.

The case against a repeal has been made clear in this discussion, with our current debt and financial obligations both at home and abroad this is the last thing the Senate should be debating.

You can find great resources and contact your Senators through the Coalition's website,

http://www.coalition4americaspriorities.com/takeaction.htm

Posted by: Wilson on June 2, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

the uncalled for comparison to paris hilton is just another liberal slur.

That's a really good clue to the Dems that we should be pushing, pushing, pushing on the undeserverd scumbag parasites like Paris Hilton and the other carbuncles of wealth. These people are undeserved recipients of this money. They did nothing to earn it, except choose their parents.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 2, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Estate tax repeal would be a disaster for everyone who's currently exempt-- which is almost everyone (except the 100 richest families).

I beleive the exemption would still exsists.


Posted by: Stephen on June 2, 2006 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

What is being missed is the fact that the Gates's, Waltons, Kennedys, Bush's, and Hiltons of the world barely pay any estate tax, under the current system or any foreseeable system. Their assets have long been protected through series of trusts, foundations and other mechanisms.

If you think the estate tax makes any difference to families like the Bush's or Kennedy's, you're flat out wrong-- though they would love you to go on thinking that they pay their fair share like other "average" wealthy Americans.

The truth is that the estate tax hits the exact people that the elite hate the most-- the uppity nouveau-riche, with estates in the 10M-50M range, who live in exburban McMansions, are geeking-up all the formerly chic hotels, restaurants, and country clubs, and making the exclusive life, well, less exclusive.

So the next time you see Kennedy or John Kerry (gents with estates in the hundreds of millions, all eternally protected from Uncle Sam) stand up for the estate tax, query whether its because they are such altrusits, or whether it's because they are sick of seeing Bubbas in the lobby of the Four Seasons.


Posted by: CTA on June 2, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Can anyone please explain to me the theoretical basis for the behavior of those members of middle class who fervently support the GOP and all its programs and policies despite so much objective evidence to the effect that the Republicans care only for the well being of those in the highest income bracket? I cannot for the life of me understand this phenomenon.

Posted by: lib on June 2, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

You are right!

Posted by: Wang on June 2, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

lib,

Inertia - voting for what the GOP used to be.
Abortion.
Believing the propoganda because of constant reinforcement from the people they trust.
Racism.

I think that pretty much covers it.

Posted by: Tripp on June 2, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Can anyone please explain to me the theoretical basis for the behavior of those members of middle class who fervently support the GOP and all its programs and policies despite so much objective evidence to the effect that the Republicans care only for the well being of those in the highest income bracket?

These are picked on high school losers and scolds who grew up to resent anyone who appeared to be having a better time than them, which was pretty much everyone they saw. Growing up resentful of others they're now primarily motivated by fear and loathing, so they become easy marks for the GOP to nurture into an army of useful idiots.

It's not so much that they support the GOP's economic policies, but their support has become a form of tribalism - "My team right or wrong!" They don't care if their taxes are raised so that the Walton's kids can keep a few extra billions, just as long as the GOP will continue bashing those damn liberal hippies, feminazis and homos.

Posted by: Thumb on June 2, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative ideology has always been based on convenient myths.
Posted by: Nemesis

"It can't be said often enough: what American conservatism has become, as a practical ideology, is the perpetuation and augmentation of privilege for those who are already privileged. And Bush is an extreme practitioner of that ideology. This new round of tax cutting is just the latest of countless examples that makes the point." Jonathan Weiler

Posted by: CFShep on June 2, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Support is also based on the outside chance (pipe dream) that they night strike it rich and be subject to the estate tax.

Posted by: Wombat on June 2, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

What is being missed is the fact that the Gates's, Waltons, Kennedys, Bush's, and Hiltons of the world barely pay any estate tax, under the current system or any foreseeable system. Their assets have long been protected through series of trusts, foundations and other mechanisms.

We need to raise the tax, and cut these trust protections.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 2, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Well, to be fair - I don't know whether it's true or not that some people lost farms etc. due to estate tax. But consider that it really is hard to be taxed on the *value* of an asset, if you don't have lots of cash. There should be some adjustment for that.

PS - Something isn't OK just because only a few people are subject to it.

Posted by: some jerk off the street on June 2, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

What is being missed is the fact that the Gates's, Waltons, Kennedys, Bush's, and Hiltons of the world barely pay any estate tax, under the current system or any foreseeable system. Their assets have long been protected through series of trusts, foundations and other mechanisms.

Which is why Bill Gates' father favors the estate tax -- it creates incentives for the wealthy to give large amounts of money to charity.

BTW, there should be a law akin to Godwin's that anyone who calls the estate tax the "death tax" is automatically exempted from consideration as an honest commentor. (Of course, most that use the phrase go on to exempt themselves, but you get the idea.)

Finally, I've noticed that tbrosz seems to be making himself scarce lately. If he hasn't responded to Kevin ringing the dinner bell in this thread to post his usual straw men and "eat the rich" bullshit, than I suppose he may be gone for good. And good riddance, I might add.

Posted by: Gregory on June 2, 2006 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

As some jerk off the street nicely demonstrates, you can listed to quite a few right wing talk shows (probably until hell freezes over) before they will mention that (i) its pretty damn hard to find an example of a family farm or business which has been sold because of the estate tax because (ii) even under the pre-Bush 2001 tax law there was a special increased exemption amount for family businesses and farms, and even if, tax is owed on an illiquid asset, you can defer the tax for up to 15 years at 2% interest with no penalty.

Perhaps one of our intrepid self-styled conservatives would like to explain why wage income up to the SS cap should be taxed at double what the current rates are for capital gains, dividends, and, on an overall basis, gifts and estates? Are those people "fortunate" enough to have to work for a living deserving of the highest bracket?

Posted by: hank on June 2, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

My, the trolls are active today! No smarter than usual, of course.

Posted by: chasmrich on June 2, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory's right about charitable incentives - charities stand to lose billions of dollars in revenue if the estate tax is repealed. Of course, those in favor of tax breaks and smaller government would argue that charities are better suited to handle many government services; that's quite unlikely if nonprofits are facing more budget shortfalls.

Posted by: kim on June 2, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Why all the animosity towards paris hilton and the Walton kids.

Really, 'undeserverd scumbag parasites like Paris Hilton and the other carbuncles of wealth.' ? Who are you to judge who is worthy?

What about powerball / lottery winners? They didnt earn money. Do they incur your wrath too? Or is this just jealousy?

I figure the Waltons and Paris Hilton pay much much more money in sales tax per year buying expensive crap. They probably pay more then 6grand a year just on sales tax on clothing.

So they do pay taxes. As much as their black amex cards allow...

Posted by: amy on June 2, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well, to be fair - I don't know whether it's true or not that some people lost farms etc. due to estate tax. But consider that it really is hard to be taxed on the *value* of an asset, if you don't have lots of cash. There should be some adjustment for that.

No problem. Sell the asset, and then pay your taxes, you rich parasite deadbeat.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 2, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why all the animosity towards paris hilton and the Walton kids.
Really, 'undeserverd scumbag parasites like Paris Hilton and the other carbuncles of wealth.' ? Who are you to judge who is worthy?

Spare us the fake outrage. These people are trying to get rid of this most American and fair of all taxes. They do not deserve this money - they didn't earn it, they just lucked into it.

It's my money, just as much as it is theirs.

So, you betcher ass I'm playing the class warfare card. It's their class or it's my class. It's a zero sum game. They want to keep their undeserved wealth, and I want some for the public fisk.

Thomas Jefferson counted the abolition of primogeniture - the legal system under which family wealth was preserved by the exclusive right of the eldest son to inherit - among his greatest accomplishments. He said its abolition was an essential part of "a system by which every fiber would be eradicated of ancient or future aristocracy, and a foundation laid for a government truly republican."

Others, like President Theodore Roosevelt and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis worried that huge fortunes would, if left untaxed, evolve into a dangerous permanent aristocracy and saw the estate tax as a practical, democratic restraint on massive concentrated wealth and power.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 2, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

stand to lose billions of dollars in revenue if the estate tax is repealed.

There are tax breaks for charitable contribution.

What about powerball / lottery winners?

Lottery winners pay taxes on their winnings. There are probaly more lottery winners who are paying taxes on their winnings than people who have to pay taxes on their estate.

Any more straw men ?

Posted by: Stephen on June 2, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

"If you think the estate tax makes any difference to families like the Bush's or Kennedy's, you're flat out wrong-- though they would love you to go on thinking that they pay their fair share like other "average" wealthy Americans."

Funny how the anti-estate tax campaign is funded mainly by a few super rich individuals and families ain't it? Makes one suspect that they are in fact expecting to be hit by the tax. I think it is almost certain that while they are able to shelter some of thier inheritances from these taxes they are not able to shelter all of it so they still do pay millions of dollars in inheritance taxes. Thats why they are spending millions of dollars trying to get rid of them. The arrangements they make to avoid taxation also put restrictions on what they can do with thier money presumably decreasing thier investment returns and simply annoying them.

"The truth is that the estate tax hits the exact people that the elite hate the most-- the uppity nouveau-riche, with estates in the 10M-50M range, who live in exburban McMansions, are geeking-up all the formerly chic hotels, restaurants, and country clubs, and making the exclusive life, well, less exclusive."

A McMansion is a big, poorly designed suburban house with a few luxury bullet points. People with $20 million can buy a real mansion in the city and another rural estate if they want. McMansions are bought by the upper middle class most of whom will never become wealthy because they do things like buy giant poorly designed suburban houses they can barely afford.

"So the next time you see Kennedy or John Kerry (gents with estates in the hundreds of millions, all eternally protected from Uncle Sam) stand up for the estate tax, query whether its because they are such altrusits, or whether it's because they are sick of seeing Bubbas in the lobby of the Four Seasons."

Kerry's total net worth is on the order of a few million. His wife has the big bucks.

Consider next time you actually use your brain whether the party that is against taxing investment income, property, and inheritance might be the one working in favor of the wealthy elite that owe thier wealth to inheritance, ownership of property, and investment income.

Posted by: jefff on June 2, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

When the legislator has regulated the law of inheritance, he may rest from his labor - de Tocqueville

Posted by: frizb on June 2, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Consider next time you actually use your brain" - Which, so far as I can tell, will be the first time.

Posted by: chasmrich on June 2, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know where that 50 family farm number came from, but it has to be an error. I have personal experience with this. My wife's family has been in the orange business in southern California for over 100 years. The last 30 has seen huge run ups in the value of the land, but not in the income generated from the oranges. When my father-in-law died we had a massive tax bill, even including the discount of farm land versus selling to a subdivider. There was simply not enough cash to pay the tax man where thare had been more than enough to live a comfortable life. We sold the ranch and packing house, put 50 people out of work so that the estate tax could be paid.

Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech on June 2, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Let's have a discussion of the "birth tax" associated with uncontrolled deficit spending which no one seems to want to repeal but which affects EVERYONE...

Posted by: Richard on June 2, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

I would think the 50 number is also wrong, (unless what they said ws that perhaps only 50 businesses might be sold, that could be right).

However, Tasseled raises a good point. The facts appear to be an estate, mostly non-liquid ranch land, in the same family for about 100 years. That might be two, or perhaps three generations. Don't know how old Tassled's wife is, but had she inhereted the ranch in, say, her 50's, she might well live for another 40 years, into her 90's before passing it on to the Tassel children.

That's 140 years. The policy question is this: really, should Ms. Tassel and her kids get ALL OF this wealth which, on these facts HAD to be established by their grandparents or great grandparents?

Notwithstanding the fact that indeed this hardly ever happens (either the estate is too small, there is some way to pay the tax, or the younger generation wants to sell out and get out of the orange (or whatever) business) what should be done when it does happen?

Remember, Tassel and the potential Tasselites now have the after tax proceeds of the sale, fully free to buy another orange grove somewhere outside of Southern California.

What does everyone think?

Posted by: hank on June 2, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

The "50" number was aparrantly calculated using a $3.5 million exemption, which was one democrat supported alternative to repealing the estate tax. I think that before republicans temporarily repealed it rather than changing the exemption it was more like $1 million.

Given the way the wealth is distributed it is likely that increasing the exemption 3.5x would change the number of people affected dramatically.

Posted by: jefff on June 2, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK
Well, to be fair - I don't know whether it's true or not that some people lost farms etc. due to estate tax. But consider that it really is hard to be taxed on the *value* of an asset, if you don't have lots of cash. There should be some adjustment for that.

sure so that people with lots of cash can just buy a really big non-cash asset and then get that adjustment. Then after they pass it along to the next generation the asset is sold and the cash is restored. Tada!

oh sure there would be some loss due to transaction costs, but that's small change compared to the savings that the policy some jerk is advocating.

Posted by: Edo on June 2, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hank, that is essentially what happened. But the statement that no family farm was ever sold to pay the inheritance tax is in fact wrong by personal experience. Whether or not it is good policy is another debate.

Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech on June 2, 2006 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Notwithstanding the fact that indeed this hardly ever happens (either the estate is too small, there is some way to pay the tax, or the younger generation wants to sell out and get out of the orange (or whatever) business) what should be done when it does happen?

I think there is additonal estate planning that can be done prior to a death that would protect these types of assets.

Posted by: Stephen on June 3, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Tasled Loafered Leech: "The last 30 has seen huge run ups in the value of the land, but not in the income generated from the oranges. When my father-in-law died we had a massive tax bill"

My family had something similar happen, 40 years ago, but it wasn't the estate tax that killed us. My grandparents had an apple farm and, over time, as with your wife's family's orange farm, property values had risen dramatically but not the revenue from the sale of apples. But the taxes on the property had also risen dramatically. My grandparents--who were in their 70s at this point--decided to sell their land to developers. One way or another, the taxes were going to be onerous: either property taxes now or a huge estate tax later. But the problem was not the tax, per se--estate or property--but the demand for the land and its increasing value. Sooner or later, developers were going to get their hands on what was a highly desirable property.

My family loved that farm. Forty years later we still grieve for what was an idyllic place.

What I hear in your anecdote is the dark underbelly of "progress" and growth: Enterprises that were perfectly profitable and lovely places in their day get priced out of business by the real estate market. It's the free market system--more money could be from that land in other ways, and the wishes of the individuals who are associated with that property mean nothing.

It's true that there was no estate tax, or property tax, the value of the land would not matter--it could be worth a gazillion and my grandparents and their descendents could use it for apples and flowers forever. But if there were not estate tax, sooner or later the property tax would have forced your father-in-law out of business.

Posted by: PTate in MN on June 3, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Good morning! I hope all is well with everyone. I'm so glad it's Friday. Can't wait to sleep in tomorrow. I shall go I shall come on the site (All about cellular telephones
http://cellphone.ccity1.com/

Posted by: Constantin on June 4, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Good morning! I hope all is well with everyone. I'm so glad it's Friday. Can't wait to sleep in tomorrow. I shall go I shall come on the site (All about cellular telephones
http://cellphone.ccity1.com/

Posted by: Constantin on June 4, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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