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It's time to fix the estate tax

It’s been said that only death and taxes are certain. But the “death tax” is anything but certain now. There’s no estate tax this year -- costing the Treasury billions -- because Congress allowed it to expire.

With less than a fortnight before Congress’s August recess, United for a Fair Economy held a press conference call with a wonderfully eclectic mix of participants --including former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, heiress and filmmaker Abigail Disney and hedge fund pioneer Julian Robertson -- all urging reinstatement of “the most progressive tax in the code and the only national tax on wealth.”

They are facing some stiff opposition. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) was on the Senate floor this week talking about heirs being forced to sell their property and how reinstatement of the estate tax would cost 1.5 million jobs as well as the collapse of many family farms and small businesses.

In fact, the American Farm Bureau was unable to find a single example of a farm having to be sold to pay the estate tax, as Lee Farris, UFE’s tax policy coordinator, pointed out. And the Senate and House bills supported by UFE -- introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash) -- would be paid by only one-quarter of one percent of estates, or seven-tenths of one percent of estates, respectively.

The McDermott bill allows a $2 million exemption per spouse and has a 45 to 55 percent rate; the Sanders bill allows a $3.5 million exemption per spouse, the same 45 to 55 percent rate, and a 65 percent rate for amounts over $1 billion. In the dog days of summer, it now seems unlikely that this Congress can take action before the August recess. But it must take action this year, or else the estate tax reverts to a $1 million exemption per spouse and rates from 41 to 55 percent in 2011.

Another proposal in play is exactly the wrong way to head at a time of rising inequality in a nation starved for revenue. It’s offered by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), and would create a 35 percent rate and exemption of $5 million per person. Trumka said it would “substantially weaken the inheritance tax to benefit literally a handful of the wealthiest families in the country at the expense of increasing the deficit and weakening our government’s capacity to address the economic crisis.” He noted that it would benefit less than 1 percent of all estates but reduce federal revenues by $544 billion between 2012 and 2021.

Maybe Lincoln is trying to save the ranch? Guess again. Only 83 families in Arkansas owed estate taxes in 2008.

The participants on the conference call, meanwhile, explained why a sensible estate tax is so important.

Rubin spoke to how the estate tax contributes to a more robust economy:

If you use the resources for public investment, in ways that produce a rapid spend-out, or assistance to those who’ve been affected by the crisis, the net effect would be to increase current demand…. Roughly 100 percent of [those] funds are going to be used very quickly. While part of any very large inheritance is almost inevitably going to be either saved or used to repay debt. So in terms of current demand, you would actually increase demand, rather than reduce demand, by restoring the estate tax immediately.



Disney spoke forcefully about the inherent fairness of the estate tax:

I don’t intend to try to compound my already good fortune by enjoying security, health and good social order without contributing to the cost of those things by paying my fair share of taxes…. My grandfather would be the first person to tell you he’d managed to amass his fortune not in spite of, but because of, the American system. After all, without reliable and safe roads there would be no such thing as Disney Land; without high-functioning legal systems and a well-regulated business environment there would have been no copyright protection for Mickey Mouse.”

Ferris said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has begun hearings on what levels the expiring Bush tax cuts should she set at, and reports are the estate tax will be included in that package. Congress should move swiftly to reinstate a fair estate tax.

By vanden Heuvel  | July 23, 2010; 12:56 PM ET
Categories:  vanden Heuvel  | Tags:  vanden Heuvel  
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Comments

Congress should REPEAL the estate tax. Last year it contributed to less than 1% of tax revenue. Over a half a million people will have to pay the death tax over the next ten years if we do not get rid of it.

A retroactive estate tax is unconstitutional as an ex post defacto law.

Write your representative today to do away with this immoral and economically destructive tax.

Posted by: ddowney1 | July 23, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The liberal red flag, "costing the Treasury billions". More accurately, the Treasury would be deprived.

Notice that the unemployment extension didn't "cost" anything, despite the Republicans efforts.

To a liberal, the government spending money doesn't cost and the government not receiving more taxes does.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | July 23, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I didn't know that rich blokes like ddowney1 actually read these columns. I'd figure they'd pay someone with a state college degree to summarize over dinner and drinks.

Walt's granddaughter was right. The rich wouldn't be rich without support from the American system, and it should be financed by all of us. Repeal of the inheritance tax is another one of those phony Republican issues. Just more GOP cant about how none of us can be free unless the rich can afford that fifth home in the Swiss Alps.

Frankly, I'd raise the tax to 90% and let them all eat cake.

Posted by: sbuchanan11 | July 23, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

ddowney:

I consider myself about as right-wing as you can get. I'm also a finance professional. I like low tax rates, but I'm not sure I agree with the statement that the estate tax is "immoral and econcomically destructive".

For starters, I'm not sure why it would be any more immoral than any other tax. If you consider all taxes immoral, then point granted....I just wouldn't agree.

It also can't really be said to be 'economically destructive'. True, when tax rates are increased on personal income, or even corporate income, negative impacts can be felt on economic activity. People will spend less...businesses will invest less, and hire fewer people....

However, just increasing the estate tax doesn't mean people will start postponing death! Death is the activity-driver, and it isn't going to change depending on the estate tax rate.

What I don't understand is why the estate tax is punitive. Why should the estate tax be any more than the top income tax rate? I mean, other than to give liberals more money to waste :o).

Here's a common sense solution: set one top rate that is the same for income, capital gains, and estate transfer (read: death tax). That eliminates all the accounting games of shifting assets for the wealthy among various trusts, trying to get it taxed at the lowest possible rate at the given time. If all the top rates (I suggest 25%) are the same, there's no games to be played.

Posted by: dbw1 | July 23, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The estate tax is inherently unfair because it taxes at a different rate than income. Make the receivers of the estate pay income tax on the income and call it a day.

As an aside. Taxing income makes very little sense. We should be taxing consumption if at all. Eliminate income taxes and replace with a VAT.

Posted by: BradG | July 23, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The news from the Bahston Globe no less, is that John F'ing Kerry, whom served in Viet Nam, dodged almost half a million dollars in taxes on his multi-million dollar yacht. We common everyday working Americans realize that taxes are way too high, but Kerry not only cheated his home state of Taxxachusetts of the $470,000+ in state taxes on the purchase of his little boat with 2 VIP cabins (John & Teresa are both VERY IMPORTANT), but even cheated the state on an annual tax of about $70,000. Kerry bought the yacht from a New Zealand builder, further cheating UNION shipbuilders in his or any US state!
Seeing as Sen Kerry supports healthcare, federal and state of Mass. scams, and all the other taxes for his pet projects, he should stop dodging taxes and step up with a check!

Jiminredstate

Posted by: Right1 | July 23, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The estate tax is a tax on assets that have already been taxed once, or twice. It breaks up small businesses and farms, in some cases to avoid the tax. It also deters capital formation, punishes savers and rewards those who do not save. It sends the wrong message to entrepeneurs and business people. There are also many hidden costs associated with planning for it that do not show up in tax figures. It requires an understanding of estate planning to understand this.

When the estate tax was conceived, it was designed to level the playing field. While a noble pursuit, it's destructive business shrinking force outweighs any economic benefit it produces. If they want to target "wealthy" people, I find the 3.5 MM exemption laughable. I am worth more than twice this amount and I must work hard to support my family. I don't know what the number is but dynastic wealth starts somewhere in the low nine figures. I realize that in some parts of the country it less expensive, but where I live it is not.

Posted by: ddowney1 | July 23, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

The estate tax is a misnomer. It is really a confiscation of your assets after you die.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | July 23, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The estate tax is ridiculous. We are taxed on what we earn already and then the government takes another bite at death? One more big government money/power grab. Today a story surfaced that John Kerry moors his new yacht in RI to keep from paying exorbitant MASS taxes. These hypocrites will never stop until we put them out of power. We need to then reverse the damage they have done. Oh, and Vanden Heuvel is so far left that she would prefer communism to a Reagan style capitalist system.

Posted by: deklew | July 23, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Disney spoke forcefully about the inherent fairness of the estate tax:

I don’t intend to try to compound my already good fortune by enjoying security, health and good social order without contributing to the cost of those things by paying my fair share of taxes…. My grandfather would be the first person to tell you he’d managed to amass his fortune not in spite of, but because of, the American system. After all, without reliable and safe roads there would be no such thing as Disney Land; without high-functioning legal systems and a well-regulated business environment there would have been no copyright protection for Mickey Mouse.”

--------------------------------------
Then Walt Disney would have had the absolute opportunity to give as much as he wanted (up to 100% of his estate) to the Internal Revenue Service Bureau of the Public Debt to allow him to express the gratitude for living in America.

But, he didn't. He tried to reduce his estate taxes the maximum extent possible

Hypocrysy is when you are wanting to increase taxes on others and wanting to reduce it on yourself.....

Nothing further.

Posted by: VALAWYER1 | July 23, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Actually, aren't taxes levied on the transfers of money from one person to another.

Income taxes are incurred when income is transferred from the employer to the employee
Sales taxes are incurred when property is sold from a seller to a buyer
Gas taxes are sold when a gas station sels gas

Estate taxes (Death taxes?) This is imposed when the taxable event is death. This seems materially different from the other incurrence of taxes. Taxes will be imposed upon whatever property that a beneficiary inherits, once it is sold or traded. If he keeps it, and does nothing \with it?? What happens when stores keep prpoerty and don't sell it? A similar result should be in effect.

It is also not the number of people who pay the tax, but also the amount of money which is spent to avoid paying the tax, and the number of people who must consult ever more expensive lawyers to reduce their tax liability which is the key measuring stick. The counting of the ones who pay the taxes is affected by the ones who work under federal regulations to reduce the burden. A little bit more than 400--even in Arkansas.

Posted by: VALAWYER1 | July 23, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Where does this rich, arrogant limousine liberal and so called pundit get off touting the estate tax. This is the most unfair tax in existence. Someone works hard all their life. They pay taxes, they pay taxes on investment earnings. Now they pay the third tax on the same income when they pass away. This is confiscation. We had a revolution over a stamp tax. A second revolution is arriving in November. It can't come soon enough.

Posted by: jkk1943 | July 23, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Classic class envy from a classic far left socialist: somebody has lots of money -- let's take it!!! And who is she quoting in support of reinstating the "gouge the rich" -- Bernie Sanders, self admitted socialist, and James McDermott, one of the most partisan lefties in Congress. Oh, and of course that paragon of virtue, union boss -- and very jealous we presume, AFL-CIO godfather Trumka.

My proposal:
1st 3 million not taxed.
2nd 3 million taxed at 10%
3rd 3 million taxed at 20%
Balance over $9 million taxed at 30%

All adjusted for inflation, so that "bracket creep" doesn't collect everyone when Obama's policies make the dollar worth a dime in a few years.

Posted by: CREEBOLD | July 23, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

@jkk1943

Um, when someone dies, they actually cannot pay anything, because the person in question cannot do anything (even care what happens to their money)-they're dead!

If the estate tax is somehow considered an "income" tax, it is a tax on the income of the people receiving it. Sheesh.

Posted by: lingeringvoid | July 23, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Liberalism sucks big time. Repeal the estate tax all together and start closing government departments, programs and the massive amounts of redundancies.

Posted by: jblast2000 | July 23, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Two comments here.

First an aside. Readers should know and be concerned about what I and others know about the negligence and fraud in our probate court system. Far more families are hurt by that negligence and fraud than by the estate tax. Anyone wanting to know more about this negligence and fraud, and what has been proposed to prevent it, can find out more by writing tvfields@oh.rr.com or looking online at websites of organizations such as the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse.

Now, regarding the estate tax, here is a very important consideration which I've yet hear anyone else express. People want low income taxes in order to be able to have more to spend and invest while they are alive. If we are going to keep income taxes low, then we need to tax estates in order to make up the difference needed to pay for the safety net and public services that most of us need.

In other words, we need to make a responsible choice between paying taxes now or paying them later.

Choosing not to pay taxes either now or later is no more responsible than those choices during my lifetime which have repeatedly wreaked so much havoc in our society, including the choice of American politicians to refuse Ho Chi Minh's request for U.S. help to end France's colonial oppression of Vietnam -- a choice which forced Ho Chi Minh to look for help elsewhere and eventually cost 50,000 Americans their lives.

Posted by: tvfields1 | July 23, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Someone else has already said the best course is to eliminate estate taxes, but to charge income tax to the heirs at the same rate as any other income. I agree.

In fact, I believe all income, from all sources, should be taxed at the exact same rate. When the richies pay a lower rate on their capital gains than Joe the Plumber pays on money he sweated to earn, and the richies' coupon-clipping money is exempt from "payroll tax," it's a slap in the face of everyone in this country who does what we used to call "honest work."

Since about 1970, most of the richie-richies have been waging economic war on America -- and they've been winning. Note that Al Queda mastermind Osama bin Laden is one of the richie-riches, albeit not an American one, and that he is still at large.

But then, the way richie-riches move money around so that they can avoid paying taxes in the countries whose civilized infrastructures allowed them -- or their forebears -- to grow their fortunes, are they truly citizens of any one country any more?

Here's a scary question for you: Do George W. Bush, John Kerry, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have more in common with you or with each other?

Please think carefully before you answer.

Posted by: roblimo | July 24, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

OH KATRINA, KATRINA, THERE YOU GO AGAIN! You never met a tax that you didn't like.

Katrina, perhaps us regular folks down here wouldn't mind paying an estate tax if we didn't see your "progressive" friends avoiding taxes or forgetting to pay them.

Just read about Sen. John Kerry docking his new yacht in Rhode Island, something that will allow him to not pay many thousands of dollars to his home state of Massachussetts. Also, I remember Al Gore lecturing us "small people" about saving energy, as he jetted aroung the world in his private jet, and air conditioned his many mansions. Also, what about Charlie Rangel?

KATRINA, I KNOW THAT YOU "PROGRESSIVES" LIKE TO HAVE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. NEED I REMIND YOU THAT US "SMALL PEOPLE" ARE PART OF THAT PLAYING FIELD TOO. AND TO US, IT DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE VERY LEVEL.

Posted by: barrysal | July 24, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

The estate tax was the brainchild of Teddy Roosevelt. He wanted to see an end to an inherited aristocracy of wealth rather than one of merit.

He was correct. Merit is better for the nation.

The reality is that taxes are unfair by definition. They are also necessary to maintain this constitutional democracy. And giving the rich a free ride for a year is a pitiful thing for politicians to have done.

Posted by: kcbob | July 24, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

VAT Tax is worse than doing nothing; it lays 95% of taxes on the 95% of Americans earning under $250,000 AGI Adjusted Gross Income. Most low income people would see their Sales tax rates jump to over 50% including State and local taxes and reduce purchasing power which drags down the economy.

There is no such thing as a "Death Tax" it's a tax on income for Beneficiaries no different than what they do if you should win the Lottery. Taxes are taken out first and you get the balance. Most Beneficiaries will pay nothing.

Posted by: ddoiron1 | July 24, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

It sounds very good. Unfortunately, progressive tax policy has only one goal:

Funnel more money from the private sector to public sector union goons.

Progressive used to believe in taking from the rich and giving to the poor. NO MORE!

Now they take from the rich AND the poor and give to the public employee.

Actually, from their view, it makes sense. Take from the tax payer, give to the public employee, who contributes to the Democratic Party. It is backward route but it forces ALL tax payers to fund progressive causes.

It is very ugly but it works.

Very ugly.

Posted by: TECWRITE | July 24, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

It always helps your argument, if you can quote a former HUMAN SHIELD for Saddam Hussein - McDermott. Or the only Self Proclaimed SOCIALIST, from the "Dave's not here, man" State. Or the In and Out of JAIL, "Labor Leader" - Dickey Boy TRUMKA. (Are there any 'Labor leaders' who HAVEN'T served time in a Federal Pen?) And, last but nowhere near the least, the HUGE CROOK BANKER - Robert Rubin. A guy who's finger prints are all over the BANKING COLLAPSE DEBACLE.
That's quite the lineup, Katrina. What's the matter? Where's the Big Kahuna? And Mrs. Big Kahuna? Where is the IMPEACHED, Convicted of EXPOSING HIMSELF to a woman he'd never met before, RAPIST - Bill Clinton? And Mrs, I don't know how those BILLING RECORDS got on my reading room table, Clinton?
Right. They were putting on a $2 MILLION Wedding for their pail of worms looking Daughter.
I guess things ARE getting more unequal around here. MY Wedding cost $4,ooo. The TAX CHEAT-Charlie Rangel. The Crooked Son of a Crooked Father, Friend of Angelo-Chris Dodd. Barney K Y Frank. The Widow Chasing, Tax Dodging BILLIONARE - John F-ing Kerry. The UBER RICH Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Frankenfeinstein.
Those are some kinda FRIENDS you got there, Katrina. I know that we're all gonna pay attention to you and all of your DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO, buddies. In fact. I'm writing the CHECK, even as I speak.
Idiot. Get the H*LL outta my country, you STUPID, COMMUNIST, B***H!

Posted by: GoomyGommy | July 24, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

By the way. These are NOT transfers of money, or assets, from "One person to another". These are Money and Assets HANDED DOWN TO FAMILY. And it's none of anybodys' G*DD*MN BUSINESS. Why don't all of you PUKE PROGRESSIVES go down to VENEZUELA? Do your GOOSE STEPPING someplace else!

Posted by: GoomyGommy | July 24, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Katrina Vanden Drivel, like her looney wingnut friends on the left, has never seen a tax she didn't love. Of course, she and others fail to note that the wealth in many estates has been taxed, often more than once. The death tax is just another way to redistribute wealth. And for what purpose...so dumbocrats like Obozo can spend us into bankruptcy. If the tax survives, there needs to be an exemption of at least $10 million and a maximum rate of 20% on amounts over the exemption. Otherwise, the windfall from this tax will be spent on foolish, wasteful government give-aways.

Posted by: manzoa | July 24, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

NO STEPPED UP BASIS: What is grossly missing from this blog and comments is that in 2010 middle class America is paying an "estate tax" that it never paid before because stepped up basis has been eliminated on inherited assets.

Explanation: Up to 2010 the cost basis for any inherited assets was moved up to current market price of the asset (using the date of death). That meant a family inheriting their parents' home bought in the 1950's and sold the house to pay for college, loans, etc paid virtually no capital gains tax. The cost basis was nearly identical to the price they sold the home at.

Not today. That same family will pay 15% taxes on the the difference between today's price of the house and what it cost their partents in the 1950s. A huge tax that up to 2010 they would have never paid.

THese comments and this article talk about 'double taxation', being unfair to the super rich, etc. and NEVER mention that today middle class America is paying taxes on inherited assets they never had to pay before.

And don't think that the very wealthy are paying cap gains taxes on their assets. If a very wealthy family inherits an office building in NYC, there is no need to sell but just enjoy the income. The super wealthy do not NEED to sell as to middle class.

So in 2010 Steinbrenner's heirs pay no taxes but the middle class family that inherited their parents' home is slapped with a huge tax. Where is the outrage?

Posted by: MikeTracy | July 24, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"today middle class America is paying taxes on inherited assets they never had to pay before."


Mike Tracy forgets that less than 1% of estates pay a penny of estate tax, so middle class America does not and has not ever paid any estate tax.

Posted by: lensch | July 24, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

The simple theory here is that those that support the death tax are the very people that know they will never receive an inheritance nor ever have the fortitude to save enough to pass anything along when they die. It's Robin Hood logic for those that suckle on the teet of government. Re-taxing taxed savings is criminal and wrong. Death and the loss of people you love and the resulting grief is not a time to also feel taken advantage or be made to feel that you loved one was just a source of revenue for slugs like Heuvel and some of the other posters here.

Posted by: rroco | July 24, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

This is the line that reveals the authors real intent:

"Another proposal in play is exactly the wrong way to head at a time of rising inequality in a nation starved for revenue."

"Rising inequality", yep that's it, let's allow the government level the playing field.

The way to fix the estate tax is to eliminate it. If people that inherited their wealth, like Ms. Disney are so worried that the government is not getting what she considers it's fair share when she dies, there is absolutely nothing stopping her from giving it to them now, while she's alive. Believe me, they'll take it.

Posted by: gdbaron | July 24, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

The estate tax confiscates wealth that has been accumulated for the purpose of securing the future of ones family. Taxes have already been paid on this wealth. It is an immoral tax that violates the takings clause of the constitution. Its not the government's money.

The consequences of such a tax are to encourage people to avoid expanding the economy. Accumulated wealth drives job creation and the wealth creation of others.

The estate tax also encourages people to work in an underground cash economy to avoid taxation.

Progressive taxation may also be unconstitutional as it redistributes wealth. Wealth redistribution is not permitted under the constitution. Read Jefferson.

Posted by: EnergyCzar | July 24, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

When someone like Van Der Heuvel talks about fixing the estate tax, it's time to hide your wallet.

How anyone with any sense of proportion could support the government naming itself the prime beneficiary of any estate that has paid taxes on its earnings through the years, is a mystery.

Does the term "limited government" have no meaning in leftist circles anymore?

This kind of thinking absolutely proves the old saying, "Any government big enough to provide you everything you need, is big enough to take everything you've got."

Posted by: theduke89 | July 24, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, right, that's what I want: an estate tax bill written by Jim McDermott.

Posted by: theduke89 | July 24, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

You can always count on liberals to push for higher taxes and more spending. They are just fundamentally wrong. Sticking your hands into the pockets of the dead to feed the government beast is immoral. Not surprising coming from the likes of hurricane Katrina Van...

Posted by: icob | July 24, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

the "it only impacts a few people therefore it's fair" argument is the most morally bankrupt argument that can be made for ANYTHING.

Posted by: damulljr | July 24, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

EnergyCzar (& others) claim that"Taxes have already been paid on this wealth."

This is simply false. When my mother died a few years ago, her mutual funds consisted of about 90% investment income since she was 92. Fidelity opened an account for the estate and put her funds in the account. When the executors (my brother and I) told Fidelity to sell the funds, they did so, and since tax is not assessed on an account held by an estate, no tax was paid. We then told Fidelity to liquidate the account by sending us all the cash which they did. Absolutely no tax was ever paid on the 90% that was investment income since the estate was too small to pay estate tax.

Under 2000 rules, 80% of the funds in estates that paid any estate tax were investment income--that figure would be higher under 2009 rules. If there were no estate tax, no tax would ever be paid on these funds. I don't know what "double taxation" is, but I do know what it means that all tax is evaded. This would be a tremendous boon to the richest amongst us, but perhaps that is what you wanted all along.

Posted by: lensch | July 24, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The costs of the estate tax ae not only played out in the catastrophic burdens that it puts on family businesses and farms but, more often, in the maneuvers and distractions that families work through to avoid the tax.

Currently, a small percentage of financially established families actually suffer the full wrath of the estate tax. Instead, they employ legions of accountants, financial planners and lawyers to avoid the tax through complex transfers.

Only a few families actually get hit with the full force of the tax. They are often the ones with hard assets rather than paper wealth. This tax does fall disproportionately on farmers and small business employers as their assets are less fluid, have lower basis and more integral to ongoing operations. Farmers and small business employers skills are also less adapted to complex avoidance tactics.

Posted by: john19 | July 24, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Presumably, Ms. Vanden Heuvel is concerned that the estate tax be "fixed" because next year her family would be subject to it if the exemption is not raised from $ 1 million to $ 3.5 million or whatever. She thinks the estate tax is a great idea, but only for those richer than her.

In most countries, families making $ 40,000 per year would be considered rich and would be subject to AMT, estate tax, and all the rest.

If it's such a good idea, let's all pay it. From a world-wide perspective, we're almost all rich.

Posted by: bobtobs | July 24, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"It’s been said that only death and taxes are certain. But the “death tax” is anything but certain now. There’s no estate tax this year -- costing the Treasury billions -- because Congress allowed it to expire." Says Ms. Vanden Heuvel.

You really have to laugh at people who view the concept of people being able to keep their own money, especially after it has aready been taxed as income, dividends, and or capital gains, as a cost to the Treasury of a government with a spending spree for fiscal 2010 of $3.55 Trillion. ITS THE PEOPLES' MONEY NOT THE TREASURY'S MONEY.

Posted by: harryvederchi | July 24, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey, folks, it isn't like the conservatives don't spend. They just spend on different things (e.g., war). So unless you want to bleed that last dime out of the middle class, you should think about reinstating the estate tax.
And as far as the comment from the finance guy (finance, really? you passed a finance course?) that the tax shouldn't be higher than the highest marginal tax rate, why is that? These are completely different taxes. Estate taxes have a large exemption ($2-4 million, depending on the bill).

Posted by: pmhebert | July 24, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Thoughtless drivel!!!One of Katrina's better efforts.

Posted by: Xdem | July 24, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I would be for a 100% exemption on the estate for a legal partner, and then a 100% estate tax on the remaining estate when the partner dies.

I think partners should get every penny of their estate; but why should children, grandchildren or pets get any? They didn't earn a dime of it.

And America's protection of the American Dream shouldn't include protecting grandkids from inheriting enough money from hard-working-but-now-dead grandparents, that allows these kids to never need to work a day in their lives.

Only Tories (i.e, Greedy Old People Republicans, who inherit their wealth -- like the Bushes) would defend abolishing Inheritance Taxes. They're the main ones who inherit, and they want to keep it that way.

Posted by: freespeak | July 24, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I know that liberals see the idea of a persons death as an opportunity, no wait - see that as a moral imperative, to TAKE that persons wealth and give it to the government.

I have to say that I really enjoy the postings of Katrina, Joe Klein, "Wrong Again EJ Dionne" and others who continually post about how the democrats are really not going to lose badly this fall or that some kind of tax that will kill an already dying economy is actually a good thing.

The reason I enjoy it are two-fold. First, I have started to see an overwhelming number of negative responses to such postings. This tells me that the voting public is truly fired up and motivated. Second - it tells me that this elitists, east-coast liberals are so convinced as their moral and ethical correctness that they cannot imaging, must less react to the Revolution that is coming.

When I say Revolution, I truly mean that. Not in a violent way, but a transformative way. The end of big government is near.

Posted by: smorrow66 | July 24, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that liberals are the first ones to propose new taxes and the last ones to pay them? Just this week we are brought news that Dingle has been hiding money off-shore as well as not paying taxes for real estate in the US for many years. We also learned that John Kerry has a $7M sailboat that he just purchased that he didn't pay any sales tax on or personal property tax because he keeps it in Rhode Island. This saved him (or lost the state depending on your position) about half a million dollars in taxes. For years, Ted Kennedy allegedly held money in a trust in several foreign countries.

I am just floored by the level of hypocrisy that this shows. I can only imagine how many prominent democratic fund raisers were on the list of names who had their money in those Swiss bank accounts had it been exposed.

Posted by: d-35 | July 24, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

First taxes for dummies. Capital gains on real estate and investments in estates have not been previously taxed. Ex 1000 shares of Walmart that has split 20 times and is now worth 10 million has not had any tax paid on it. A piece of land worth ten thousand dollars in 1960 and now worth 5 million has not had any tax paid on it. So those arguing double taxation are just ignorant. Some money may have been taxed and that is why there is an exemption. In 2010 there is no step up in value. So using the Steinbrenners as an example, the Yankees were bought for 3 million and are now worth over a billion. When they are sold taxes will have to be paid on the income above the 3 million original purchase. For many items it is difficult for heirs to know the original price and then is one reason for stepping up the basis. An estate tax effects very few people don't let the jokers on here say otherwise. A 3.5 million exemption and a 35 percent rate would be very fair. I think the 45 and above are a little too high. A family in Texas of an oil billionaire recently inherited an estate worth 9 billion. Do you really think taxes have been paid on all this previously ? Do you think Bill Gates has paid taxes on all his appreciated stock ?

Posted by: Falmouth1 | July 24, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I meant Rangel...not Dingle.

Posted by: d-35 | July 24, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

What estate tax? There is no tax this year however, it comes roaring back next year to 55% over one million. I appraise farms and ranches. Not one example you say? You are a fool. There will be thousands of suicides by the end of the year (Google: suicide tourism), or heirs turning off their declining relatives, in form form or degree or another. Just like the Death Panels, they aren't worth it.

Posted by: holman1 | July 24, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, it is weird to tax an estate that had no tax bill while the owner was alive. And the reason you can't find farms or private business that had to bust to pay the tax man is because they spent a fortune on lawyers to set up trusts. In my opinion 40-50% tax is way too much, its just plain greedy. I say a $3 million deduction and a 15% rate. No one will be hiring lawyers and dodging taxes and such. Put it to a popular vote, ask people to circle what the tax rate ought to be on estates after people die.

Posted by: hughcity | July 24, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

This article is the kind of drivel I'd expect from the editor of a far Left publication like the Nation.

I don't see any explanation in this article why it's ethical or moral to steal someones' wealth at their death just because they were smart enought or fortunate enough to accumulate it.


The fact that they have it seems to be enough justification for Ms Vanden heuvel.

They try to justify it on the basis that it will only affect a few.

How about we shut down the Nation, Ms Heuvel?

Not too many read your rag; it will "only" affect a "few".

Boiled down to the basics..people like Vanden Heuvel are thieves..pure and simple..who want to steal what they haven't earned so they can use the wealth to reward their favorted constituencies and those constituencies will, in turn, keep them in power so they can lord it over the rest of us.

Sorry, Ms Vanden Heuvel..I believe in a a FREE country, where those who EARN what they have, get to enjoy the rewards of their labors, where government is small and lives within its means and doesn't intrude on the freedoms of the people, where the individual's rights are considered more important than the whims or greed of the collective.

In short..the kind of America created by our Founders and established in the US Constitution that people like you would like to shred.

If the Tea Party Movement keeps on growing in size and power..and Obama's poll numbers keep on sinking, you can only blame yourself. because YOUR revolting extremism is causing more and more people like me to wake up and shout ..ENOUGH!

Not only do we intend to take our country back..we are going to reverse all the damage you have tried to set in stone since Obama took powr.

You have awoken a sleeping giant..and he is as mad as hell.

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls..it tolls for thee."

Posted by: livfreeordi | July 24, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Why place a tax where there has been no sale or purchase? Comparing an inheritance to capital gains on investments is a strawman argument.

Posted by: MrMeaner | July 24, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

You note that those who say things like "tax does fall disproportionately on farmers and small business employers" never give examples. There are many studies that show this is false. Let me give one.

In 2000, the Treasury Department tried to find out if any working farms were sold to pay estate tax. First they decided to see if ANY working farms paid ANY estate tax. Well, now they had the problem to decide the definition of a working farm. Should it be one that was 90% of the estate or 75% or ???

So they decided to look at all estates that paid any estate tax and had a farm in them and see what percentage of the estate the value of the farm was. They largest percentage they found was only 15% Clearly not a working farm. The others were, of course worse. These were farms that raised polo ponies or cut flowers for the manse.

Working farms pay no estate tax.

Posted by: lensch | July 24, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Ms Vanden Heuvel,
Please answer this simple question.
Why should the government, not my family, profit from my death?

Posted by: charliem1 | July 24, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

>In 2000, the Treasury Department tried to
>find out if any working farms

And 10 years of property value growth, albeit in many areas driven by our stupid agricultural subsidies, wouldn't change that at all :rolleyes:

Eliminate the death tax.

Tax the estate at normal capital gains for the person who inherits it at the point it becomes a liquid asset -- cash, publicly traded stocks, etc.

That still builds in something liberals can love -- a PENALTY -- by resetting the basis of the capital investment to zero because it's inherited.

But it doesn't require a family owned business or farm be sold immediately or be saddled with oppressive loans that reduce it's ability to raise working capital in order to pay the death tax.

Let's cut to the bottom line folks, the Death Tax is an attack on Main Street. It's the small but successful business that are hurt.

It's the Federal Government that benefits. It's the (predominantly liberal) non-profit foundations formed to shelter the money that benefit. It's big corporations with publicly traded stock that benefit -- selling shares to pay the tax doesn't affect the company, unlike a family business where you sell working assets.

It's the small town, American dream of building a business and having family interested in continuing it and serving their community that are nailed to this modern day Cross of Gold, hoisted aloft by greedy liberals.

Posted by: Dal190 | July 24, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I love the self-righteousness of liberals. They don't succeed in life, but they think those who have worked a lifetime building wealth to pass onto their next generation owe them for nothing. Fair means to be evenly assessed by percentage or raw amount a certain tax to be paid by EVERYONE. Therefore, to only tax the successful is unfair. Fair would be a fair tax that nobody gets out of. Fairtax dot org has the best taxing idea that works for everybody.

Posted by: brandonkerr | July 24, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have been very clever is calling this "The Death Tax." It makes it sound like we're all going to be taxed when we die while most of us don't think in terms of having "estates."

As usual, the Conservative rank and file will support any policy that will benefit the wealthy.

Since the debate will be heating up regarding repeal vs. some form of reinstatement, here's an excellent article from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities regarding the myths the Republicans will be pushing:

http://www.cbpp.org/files/estatetaxmyths.pdf

Posted by: FauxReal | July 24, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

How interesting that a daughter of wealth and privilege is for raising the estate tax. She already made all her money from her family and has hired wealthy lawyers so she won't have to pay any taxes. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is, sweethart, and pay what you think you should pay? Then pack your Hermes handbags and get the hell out of this country.

Posted by: mges123 | July 24, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

There is a combination of factors at work here: the left, always caught up in class envy and the desire to punish those who have succeeded; and the statists, always looking for sources of revenue to take from producers to transfer to government and non-producers. They both know better than we what to do with our hard-earned money.

Sane people don't envy the wealthy. They would like to be them. That's why most Americans work hard, save, and try to pass on a better life to their children.
Most of us will never have "estates" reaching taxable levels, but oppose estate taxes out of basic fairness. The wise and prudent who save and invest their money well have already paid income taxes on the money they have earned. Their savings and investments strengthen the economy. What they have when they die has already been taxed. Why should their prudence be punished?

This is easy for those like Disney to support. She inherited her easy money, rather than working for it herself. It's likely sheltered within an inch of its life. Even if half were lost to an unfair tax, she'd still be rolling in wealth.
A confiscatory estate tax guarantees that fewer will ever be her equal. Most of the elites are happy that way. After all, they're smarter and better than we are.

Posted by: parkbench | July 24, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey Katrina, it is not your freaking money, and for you to suggest that the Federal govenment has the power to confiscate the wealth that an individual has built up, over the course of a lifetime of hard work, and which during the course of the aforementioned life time of work he or she paid taxes,just so that at the end of their lives, the Federal government can claim what's left, is absolutely statism at it's finest. My only question to you madam, is simply this; why don't you hate the Kennedy's?

Posted by: rongr | July 24, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

If we had a system that taxed consumption rather than income, then an estate tax would make plenty of sense. You would find Libertarian support for the concept, in fact Jefferson believed strongly that each man should make it on his own (sorry Katrina, in TJ's time women didn't factor into this conversation) and not due to the family he was born into.

So, eliminate payroll taxes, which are essentially a tax on work; eliminate income taxes, which are a tax on personal productivity; eliminate capital gains and dividends taxes, which are taxes on capital.

Instead, tax consumption (after, of course, exempting basic food, clothing and shelter), and then, after they are gone, tax the estate, which is by then the accumulation of untaxed income.

But, if we are going to hang onto income taxes, then it is INSANE to tax estates.

Katrina, you almost had me. Not quite, but almost.

Posted by: bobking84 | July 24, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Why don't we just call it what it is: the Paris Hilton tax? What has she done in her life that will merit her inheriting millions after her parents die? Other than making a sex tape and having a dumb reality show few watched, name something. Yet, she and others like her stand to earn millions, if not billions only because she was conceived. Steinbrenner's heir get billions because there is no estate tax this year. What did they do to make the Yankees the premier club it is? Nada. It's funny that all those protesting here will never be in the position to pay the tax, yet they will stand up for multimillionaires and billionaires who pau less real taxes than they do.

Posted by: mikel7 | July 24, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

When Ms Van DenHeuval says fix a tax she means raise it. She and the left wing Elites that rule our nation now see no reason why your family should get to keep the money that you've earned all your life, and that they may have helped you earn. They have better things to do with it when you're dead. After all their are unions to be bought off, and slush funds to be filled, some project in some corrupt Congressman's district to be completed. You don't need money when you're dead and why shouldn't your family have to work to support themselves. Next year the death tax will be back and you can bet the democrats will increase it even more!!!

Posted by: valwayne | July 24, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Daughter of privilege, Katrina vanden Heuvel writes....I wonder if she held these same views prior to staking claims on her family's fortune?

It's most likely in a foreign account or family trust of some sort by now.

Posted by: d-35 | July 24, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

By the way Katrina, you need a new doo. I would suggest a much shorter cut on the sides, and the bangs much longer. I think it would do wonders for you.

Posted by: rongr | July 24, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

How much is it costing the US Treasury not to have a Katrina Vanden Heuvel tax? How much money is slipping through our fingers by letting this elitist Journo-List cash her paychecks and then go out and spend the money on ANYTHING SHE WANTS while there's a huge deficit and people are being profiled in Arizona? You see the state has a natural right to decide how much each of us deserve to receive from our labors and who we give it to and how long we keep it so why are we allowing the Journo-List lefties, who have good reasons to insist that everyone else's wealth is owned by the government, to keep anything? Anything less than total confiscation for these nudnicks is unfair! But as a point of fact isnt keeping Nutsy Pelosi Speaker Of The House a thousand times more expensive than not having an estate tax? This is not a tax crisis its a spending crisis. Every tax just removes more money from the private economy and prevents economic growth. When are these commies going to get that? We've had a century where left wing economics has failed every way and everywhere they've been tried. They cause stagnation, inflation and poverty. But, with that said, I'm in favor of a Journo-List Tax on left-wing loudmouths, the stupid misinformation they peddle is pretty expensive to have around if you ask me.

Posted by: skep41 | July 24, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

While I am sort of opposed to the accumulation of legacy wealth which oftentimes does nothing else but permit heirs and heiresses to foolishly spend their way into oblivion, the federal government DOES NOT spend money efficiently or wisely, and "fixing" the estate tax is only going to result in the expansion of federal power and the expansion of federal programs that have continued to fail at their goals despite massive increases in funding almost every year.

This is but a Band-Aid on the sucking chest wound that is our deficit. Besides, estate taxes present a slippery-slope scenario: how much legacy wealth is "too much"? When federal spending continues at its unsustainable pace, will the IRS start going after the $250K and under crowd? Where will we draw the line?

Posted by: chuzhoi762 | July 24, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

OH KATRINA, KATRINA, THERE YOU GO AGAIN! YOU NEVER MET A TAX THAT YOU DIDN'T LIKE!

Tax the rich, tax the poor, tax the living, tax the dead, tax the right, tax the left, tax them all, tax them often, tax them hard, tax them, tax them, tax them!

Oh, by the way, KATRINA, how come us "small people" are expected to play by the rules and to pay our fair share, but we see all around us the "privileged" and the "political elite" bending the rules? Huh?

Posted by: barrysal | July 24, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I challenge this that someone wrote here: "The estate tax is a tax on assets that have already been taxed once, or twice." Some of my estate's assets consist of things that have never been subjected to any tax. These are my entire IRA and unrealized capital gains in my house and investments. I'm not unique in having such untaxed assets. (Of course, I pay hefty property tax locally, and the corporations represented in my IRA pay federal income tax.) I oppose the estate tax. I'd be happy to see it vanish forever. I don't want to see that good cause hurt by the mistaken assertion that ALL those assets have already been taxed. Some have not.

Posted by: therealchips | July 24, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

OH KATRINA, KATRINA, THERE YOU GO AGAIN! YOU NEVER MET A TAX THAT YOU DIDN'T LIKE!

Tax the rich, tax the poor, tax the living, tax the dead, tax the right, tax the left, tax them all, tax them often, tax them hard, tax them, tax them, tax them!

Oh, by the way, KATRINA, how come us "small people" are expected to play by the rules and to pay our fair share, but we see all around us the "privileged" and the "political elite" bending the rules? Huh?

Posted by: barrysal | July 24, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

To call tax cuts a cost to the Govt is a perversion of the English language. Taxes cost citizens, therefore a cut can't cost the govt. As soon as someone says a tax cut costs the govt, I quit reading.

Posted by: sgilligan1 | July 24, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

To call tax cuts a cost to the Govt is a perversion of the English language. Taxes cost citizens, therefore a cut can't cost the govt. As soon as someone says a tax cut costs the govt, I quit reading.

Posted by: sgilligan1 | July 24, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me or do any of you think that the liberals are like maggots trying to dovour a near dead carcas. They want to suck the life out of everyone and give it to whom ever they think will vote for them. Is this the America that created the greatest wealth the world has ever know? Yes capitalism isn't perfect, there are poor people, but with capitalism you have a possibility of being rich. With socialism all people are poor, only the relatives of the elites have a life. Look at the USSR people and realize what your doing to this country. People like Katatrina will lead you to a meager existance is that what you want? Life is tough enough. At least keep it exciting by giving yourself a chance at success

Posted by: wbindner | July 24, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Post readers should know that Ms. Vanden Heuvel went all the way to the Supreme Court to avoid estate taxes on her own almost half billion dollar fortune. The grand daughter of Jules Stein - founder of media conglomerate MCA- inherited huge wealth, all protected from the death tax. She is the epitome of liberal hypocrisy - taxes are for other people, not her. Lying liar.

Posted by: Ctmom4 | July 24, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

As I scanned several of the posts here, I found it interesting how many people miss the real issue. We all agree, however belatedly, that some level of taxation is necessary. Some things simply must be paid for to provide for the common good.

The problem is that our government has long since exceeded the limits that were originally set forth. The writer of this article argues that taxing estates is necessary just because they are estates. Rich people cannot be allowed to pass their wealth on to their offspring.

We should ALL be fighting ANY NEW TAX, all the time! We have made it far too easy for our elected representatives to rob us, in the name of any "good cause". Why should it be any more right to steal the fruits of a life's labor from a rich man than it is from one not so rich? So we can pay for even more stupid, wasteful, wrong-headed government spending?

Come on, folks, wake up. Go serve on you local park board, or school board, or local government. See for yourself how foolish and wasteful our government bodies are, at ALL LEVELS! Then, come back and talk with me about why we need more tax revenue!

And quit justifying immoral actions by couching them in righteousness. Theft is theft, no matter what the ill-gotten gains are used for.

Posted by: mroney | July 24, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

There is a great chapter in the book, "Perfectly Legal" about the estate tax. It totally debunks the argument that because of this tax, families lose family farms. In truth, the very wealthy are the ones who gain here, if the tax is low. In 2010, while there is no estate tax, the "step-up basis" is temporarily denied. This could be significant in the case of stock, bonds, real estate and other holdings that are inherited.
At the same time, people of great wealth, for the most part, have the estate tax issue figured out, e.g., using life insurance, multiple-generation family trusts or some other trick talked about in the excellent book, "Perfectly Legal." What we do not want to do, of course, is to eliminate this tax. We need to begin to reduce the gap between the super wealthy and the rest of us. Passing on wealth to the next generation needs to have limits or it will self-perpetuate.

Posted by: crossingsg | July 25, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

I am another one who is definitely not liberal (I did not vote for Obama) but do not favor a repeal of the estate tax.
First, this is taxation on an individual, or entity, who has received income. There are various ways an individual, or entity, can gain income. Inheritance is one form of gaining income. Why this form should not be taxed is perplexing to me? This probably is the fairest of all taxes and probably the least economically damaging tax. Why the fairest? Because heirs have done little to earn the income they gain from inheritance. Yet without working a day to earn the income, they gain many, many millions of dollars. They just don't get the whole amount. Why is it the least economically damaging tax? Because it does not dampen investment, it does not have any affect on job creation.

In the very best scenario, the amount of estate tax collected would offset an across the board cut in, for instance, payroll taxes (equal to the amount collected). Everyone pays payroll taxes.

Like it or not, the government must collect taxes. This is the least damaging way to do so. The only argument against the inheritance tax that holds water, imho, is: You give the government a dollar, they spend 1.25(and far too often on programs that are actually counter productive to the nation and the people). That is an argument I agree with (smaller government). However, and again, if the government must collect taxes, the inheritance tax is a good way to go. I don't agree with KVH often....this happens to be one of the uncommon times I agree with much of her argument.

Posted by: timincal2002 | July 25, 2010 12:22 AM | Report abuse

It's impossible to overestimate the damage caused by liberal hatred of family-owned small businesses. The death tax is an outrage. Freedom and private property are inextricably connected. Anyone with a substantial estate must take steps to protect their hard-earned wealth from the government. It's not just a matter of protecting the immediate family. We have a responsibility to resist our illegitmate government's efforts to destroy private property rights - and those who have been successful have an even greater responsibility.

Posted by: doctorfixit | July 25, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Vanden Heuvel, You are a freaking idiot, You and your liberal wanna be's would tax unborn children in the womb if you could find a way to do it. No wait, then you would have to kill them before they were born to avoid the tax, but you surely wouldn't have a problem with doing that. I like how you enjoy taking other peoples money to further your progressive movement, but won't dare part with your own money. Tell Disney they can donate every penny of their fortune at any time and don't have to die to do it. Pathetic Liberals have ruined this country and turned it into a welfare state.

Posted by: brimus3 | July 25, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Vanden Heuvel, You are a freaking idiot, You and your liberal wanna be's would tax unborn children in the womb if you could find a way to do it. No wait, then you would have to kill them before they were born to avoid the tax, but you surely wouldn't have a problem with doing that. I like how you enjoy taking other peoples money to further your progressive movement, but won't dare part with your own money. Tell Disney they can donate every penny of their fortune at any time and don't have to die to do it. Pathetic Liberals have ruined this country and turned it into a welfare state.

Posted by: brimus3 | July 25, 2010 12:49 AM | Report abuse

"Post readers should know that Ms. Vanden Heuvel went all the way to the Supreme Court to avoid estate taxes on her own almost half billion dollar fortune. The grand daughter of Jules Stein - founder of media conglomerate MCA- inherited huge wealth, all protected from the death tax. She is the epitome of liberal hypocrisy - taxes are for other people, not her. Lying liar."

Of course. I work in entertainment, intersecting with very famous liberals routinely. taxes are for others who are wealthy, not for them. Katrina is a laughing stock among reasonable thinkers. I truly look forward to her appearances on This Week, to watch George Will (very politely) reduce her to the inconsequence she is.

Posted by: subframer | July 25, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

"Post readers should know that Ms. Vanden Heuvel went all the way to the Supreme Court to avoid estate taxes on her own almost half billion dollar fortune. The grand daughter of Jules Stein - founder of media conglomerate MCA- inherited huge wealth, all protected from the death tax. She is the epitome of liberal hypocrisy - taxes are for other people, not her. Lying liar."

Of course. I work in entertainment, intersecting with very famous liberals routinely. taxes are for others who are wealthy, not for them. Katrina is a laughing stock among reasonable thinkers. I truly look forward to her appearances on This Week, to watch George Will (very politely) reduce her to the inconsequence she is.

Posted by: subframer | July 25, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

THE RICH GET RICHER...THE RICH ARE RICHER!

Empirically, the "top 400" persons in America OWN more than $1.5 TRILLION! And, the Republicans want to give THEM the tax breaks while "starving" working people!

There IS a much better way to DEAL with all of this and that is to require the use of the ESTATE TAX monies for ONLY the reduction of the National Debt, while requiring a BALANCED BUDGET!

Please note that there is NOTHING written in STONE to say that WE have to have THIS FORM of government.

If those in this form of government continue to refuse to live with the means of this nation, then it is UP to the citizens to REPLACE this form of government and to fracture the 50 states into smaller units that ARE representative of Americans.

Clearly, these men and women in the Congress are NOT representative of the citizens; hence, the 11% "Approval" rating of Congress. IT IS not only a FAILURE, but a DANGER to this nation.

Abolish the Congress and rewrite the Constitution without any lobbyists, or elected officials in attendance.

Or, we could resort to the old fashioned SECESSIONIST movement and reform our own governments. Clearly, this goernment is an abject FAILURE. Why? Because the RICH control it.

If you doubt that, WORK in the Congress sometime and see the corruption for yourself; the backroom deals; the pay-offs; the pandering. Americans have NO SAY in that crooked body today. It is NOT representative of the citizens, just the FAT CATS who bought and sent those corrupt persons there in the first place.

Posted by: gglenc | July 25, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Of course we should get rid of the estate tax. We should also tax journalists at 75% percent. We should tax people who eat out restaurants in New York, We should enact a tax on people that fly off to attend award ceremonies. We should tax the film industry box office receipts at 65% because they are frivolous. We should tax stupid online comments at some rate ( please let me know what I owe). My god just admit you admire Hugo Chaves for just grabbing money from the imperialists and turning it over to, well himself.

Posted by: ejc5216 | July 25, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

Death tax is THEFT. Period. All the monies accrued were done so legally and were done so after paying taxes. It is disgusting to watch confiscatory taxes like this. This money was cleared, its a post tax stockpile, and the traitor rat vermin in washington has spent America into oblivion and now it wants to literally steal our money from us.

Posted by: mickrussom | July 25, 2010 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Katrina Vanden Heuvel likes to live according to the saying, "Do as I say, not as I do."

What do it mean when I quote this proverb? As stated by a previous posting, Ms. Vanden Heuvel inherited multi-millons. Unfortunately, one of the trusts that was set up for her and her family did not allow for a direct transfer to the respected heirs without the payment of taxes. Consequently, Ms. Vanden Heuvel's family walked the contended trust through the court system, and which finally culminated with a hearing at the US Supreme Court.

The result, it was determined that the trust in question required that taxes be paid. Sorry Katrina, your families lawyer made a mistake on that one particular trust, estimated value was over 8 million dollars. Therefore, she/they were required to pay the required taxes!

Not to worry, there were other multiple trusts set up for ole Katrina et.al, and probably hundreds to millions pasted through to Katrina and others tax free. Nothing like a good Jewish New York lawyer to set up a series of trusts that allows for wealth to be transfered from one generation to another without paying taxes.

Ms. Vanden Heuvel was one of the liberal characters outlined in the book, "Do As I Say, Not As I Do". The author clearly outlined Ms. Vanden Heuvel's extended trip through the court system in trying to avoid paying taxes on only one of the various trusts set up for her. Please reference the so noted book and the authors references he utilized. If nothing else, it is a good read as it exposes many of liberal characters that grace our everyday lives.

Posted by: hockey2 | July 25, 2010 3:36 AM | Report abuse

According to taxpolicycenter.org, estate taxes collected past the 1 million dollar exemption for 2011 will bring in about 34 billion dollars.

This is a drop in the revenue bucket.

Ms. Heuvel is more than just a hardcore socialist hoping to punish "evil" rich people (even when they are in the grave).

She wants to stir up class envy. She wants to punish success.

Stirring up class envy and racial animosity are the top two leftist strategies for dividing and conquering the electorate.

Why discuss the failed policies of the leftist democratic party when you can just turn people against each other?

Don't fall for it people.

Posted by: Parker1227 | July 25, 2010 5:20 AM | Report abuse

TAX THE KENNEDYS (D) AND TRUST-FUND EURO-SOCIALISTS FIRST


How about them apples, Kitty?

BANKRUPT the Kennedys (D) and their $3,000,000,000.00 money-pile first.

Then YOUR people, Kitty.

Posted by: russpoter | July 25, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Remember how government operates. If they told you the truth about what will happen, you would never do it.

For example, the income tax when it started was 1% and didn't apply to everyone. See how that works? And now the minimum tax rate is 15% (again, once the Bush tax cuts expire...why is Congress letting them expire? See?) and other rates much higher.

How about the Alternative Minmum Tax (AMT)? Started to catch a few rich who did not pay as much tax as the government thought they should, it now sweeps up the middle class and punishes them.

And somehow the same Congress that crammed so-called health care down our throats ("If we can go over, we'll go around. If we can't go around, we'll parachute in...", a la Nancy Pelosi) can't find the same will to fix the problem. (Of course, to Congress it is not an actual problem because it helps achieve their goal of grabbing more and more of YOUR money).

Notice also how the editorialist considers it "a wonderfully eclectic mix of participants" when in reality they are all quasi-clones. All are hard Left socialist or 'useful idiots'. This also illustrates the point that to the WaPo a 'mix' is really a stacked deck, an ideologically pure cartel, grouped together to wage (continuing) war on the middle class. The people just have to present the mirage of 'diversity' and 'mix'. To a WaPo mindset, this is 'wonderful'.

Posted by: PaultheConsultantGuy | July 25, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

I can see November from my house.

Posted by: PaultheConsultantGuy | July 25, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Pure unadulterated evil.

Posted by: PaultheConsultantGuy | July 25, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

To all those who support confiscatory estate tax rates (such as the 3rd poster who wanted a 90% rate & for the rich to "eat cake"), why wait until the rich person in question is dead? Just go ahead and break into their mansions now and start taking whatever it is you need or "feel" that others need. Of course, none of those goodies will actually get to people who could use them, as they'll simply be converted to cash for the n'er do wells in Congress to spread around to the various special interest groups who've purchased a seat at the table.

Such tax-the-dead-to-death sentiments certainly go a long way in helping me understand the Left's reflexive opposition to 2nd Amendment rights. Sure, it's easy to steal from dead people, they won't fight back. But socking it to those still alive is a bit riskier proposition. Seeing as it is more difficult to take the property from unarmed victims than it is to take it from a citizen intent on protecting their assets and personal belongings, the Left's toadies on the SCOTUS (4, count'em FOUR!) decided that what's actually written in black in white doesn't really exist and that it must be a 223-year-old typo (or "write-o" since Madison didn't have a typewriter or a laptop loaded with MS Word at his disposal...). Yep, we're just one SCOTUS justice away from the Left doing pretty much whatever they please, Constitution or any other law be damned.

Welcome to the ObamaNation, in which the ends (collecting vast amounts of wealth for redistribution) justify the means (stealing from dead people). It was considered bad form to take the gold teeth or wedding rings from the dead in wartime. Apparently the American Left (and loons like Kate Vander-Schnitzel) think it's the way to go "moving forward" (so progressive!). Seriously, somebody has to pony up for Obama's dog's private plane up to Bal Harbor, Maine for vaca!

Is it 2012 yet?

Posted by: biscuitpoisoning | July 25, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

"with a wonderfully eclectic mix of participants"

Oh!! What a a surprise you'd describe them as such... make no mistake:

I don't give a hoot how many filthy rich people you line up to extol such measures- they, you, and the government, can keep their poophooks out of my, and everyone else's pockets.

"Fair" and "Taxation" cannot be reconciled.

The estate tax is theft. It's not the governments money. We have a government that pounces on any pile, any source, of money it sees; and you, the obedient apparatchik, carry water for those that would re-implement this atrocity.

Try writing an article on the destruction of the middle class by tyrannical taxation- not like the one above advocating it, I mean one that will stop it.

Posted by: fourbuttons2003 | July 25, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

According to the IRS literature, an estate tax filing need only be made if the value of an estate exceeds the following amounts:

2005: First $1,500,000 in assets
2006-2008: First $2,000,000 in assets
2009: First $3,500,000 in assets

In addition, the maximum estate tax rate applied to the amounts in excess of these figures are as follows:

2005: 47 percent
2006: 46 percent
2007- 2009: 45 percent
---------------------------------------

How many people will inherit from their parents anything near these amounts? FEW if ANY! My middle income parents left a total estate valued at less than $130,000, once their bills were paid, when they died in 2007.

If they had purchased a new $300,000 House as some do at retirement; we may have been stuck with a sizable Debt?

Posted by: ddoiron1 | July 25, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Taking something from someone because "they have more than they need" implies a judgement to be made by whom? Do I get to come to your home or place of business and decide what is enough and what is "too much"? Just because you don't know anyone who has an estate of >$3M doesn't mean it's OK for the government to confiscate the assets of those who do. IT'S NOT YOUR MONEY!

I know liberals can't get their head around that concept, but I'm willing to keep trying until they do. A good sound spanking at the polls this November followed by new occupants at 1600 Penn. Ave in 2012 should reverse this disgusting trend in American policital values which green light theft by taking and "spreading the wealth around" to those who happen to vote/contribute to you and your ilk.

Posted by: biscuitpoisoning | July 25, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Why in the world does vanden Heuvel and other liberal ideologues believe the government is entitled to take a large portion of someone's money after they die?

It's like picking the pockets of a dead person--kind of morally revolting.

Posted by: spamsux1 | July 25, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

1. During the period 1946 - 1973 taxes were much higher. Marginal rates were at least 70%; they were 93% under Eisenhower. The economy was better than what we now have. For example, median wages went up 50% during this period, and only 25% since then. Also I recently saw a graph of the national debt as a percentage of the GDP from 1946 to the present. It started high, went straight down until 1973, and then flatten out and in 1980 made a sharp turn and went straight up except for a wiggle during the Clinton administration. CEO's earned 50 times what their workers earned; it is 500 times today. Staring in 1973, the percent of wealth and income taken by the richest 10%, 1%, and 0.1% has gone up at an ever increasing rate

2. We are now told that taxes were too high during the Clinton administration, and it would be terrible to go back to them, but the economy was better then than uner Bush. For example, 20,569,000 million private sector jobs were created during Clinton's terms while Bush created 417,000 with 2 trillion in tax cuts.

3. In you look at other countries, you will see that that many have much higher taxes, but also higher growth rate. For example, our total tax rate is 26.1% while Sweden has a total tax rate of 50.2%, the average per capita growth in the GDP 1995 - 2005 was 2.1% for the US and 2.6% for Sweden. Spain had a 50% higher tax rate and 50% higher growth. Japan, on the other hand, had a lower tax rate and its growth was less than half of our growth.

Posted by: lensch | July 25, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

To he who said "Why don't we just call it what it is: the Paris Hilton tax? What has she done in her life that will merit her inheriting millions after her parents die? Other than making a sex tape and having a dumb reality show few watched, name something. Yet, she and others like her stand to earn millions, if not billions only because she was conceived. Steinbrenner's heir get billions because there is no estate tax this year. What did they do to make the Yankees the premier club it is? Nada. It's funny that all those protesting here will never be in the position to pay the tax, yet they will stand up for multimillionaires and billionaires who pau less real taxes than they do."

The answer to your comment is easy.

First..take your obvious jealousy and stuff it where the moon don't shine.

Second... it's not YOUR money..or the government's money.

It's MY money.

YOU didn't earn it..I did.

I earned it during MY lifetime and already paid taxes on it at least once and probably several times.

If I want to pass it ALL on to those I love, to make their lives better..why shouldn't I have the right to do so?

What gives YOU..or anyone else, especially the government, the moral or ethical right to steal from me once more?

Who gives YOU the moral or ethical right to decide what will be done with the products of MY labor?

You..and those who think like you, are just thieves..who want to steal what you haven't earned, either to feather your own nests..or to use MY money to bribe the lazy underachievers and losers in society to support your hunger for power.

Kiss my *ss!

Before I'd let you get a penny of my money..I'd turn it into cash and burn it before I died.

You aren't entitled to ANYTHING you haven't EARNED!

Posted by: livfreeordi | July 25, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I challenge this that someone wrote here: "The estate tax is a tax on assets that have already been taxed once, or twice." Some of my estate's assets consist of things that have never been subjected to any tax. These are my entire IRA and unrealized capital gains in my house and investments. I'm not unique in having such untaxed assets. (Of course, I pay hefty property tax locally, and the corporations represented in my IRA pay federal income tax.) I oppose the estate tax. I'd be happy to see it vanish forever. I don't want to see that good cause hurt by the mistaken assertion that ALL those assets have already been taxed. Some have not.

----------------------------------
You're on

IRA..You put the money aside. You haven't done anything with money. Once you transfer the money from the IRA into regular income (which the government will rather insist on once eligible) the amount of the transfer will be added to your income for that year.

Unrealized Capital Gains: Duh, You don't pay capital gains until the property is sold. When the property is sold, you either pay on the gains which you made, or you can deduct some of your capital losses. If the gains are not realized, there is no taxable event to pay taxes on. Of course, if you feel badly about not paying the unrealized value of AOL when it was 92 dollars a share and still holding on to it, the government will still take your money.

So, sorry, you will have to pay income tax on the IRA when it is distributed (or your heirs will, independent of estate tax law). So, you don't have to pay on your unrealized capital gains, (unless you want to sell your stock.)

Posted by: VALAWYER1 | July 25, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

First taxes for dummies. Capital gains on real estate and investments in estates have not been previously taxed. Ex 1000 shares of Walmart that has split 20 times and is now worth 10 million has not had any tax paid on it. A piece of land worth ten thousand dollars in 1960 and now worth 5 million has not had any tax paid on it. So those arguing double taxation are just ignorant. Some money may have been taxed and that is why there is an exemption. In 2010 there is no step up in value. So using the Steinbrenners as an example, the Yankees were bought for 3 million and are now worth over a billion. When they are sold taxes will have to be paid on the income above the 3 million original purchase. For many items it is difficult for heirs to know the original price and then is one reason for stepping up the basis. An estate tax effects very few people don't let the jokers on here say otherwise. A 3.5 million exemption and a 35 percent rate would be very fair. I think the 45 and above are a little too high. A family in Texas of an oil billionaire recently inherited an estate worth 9 billion. Do you really think taxes have been paid on all this previously ? Do you think Bill Gates has paid taxes on all his appreciated stock ?

Posted by: Falmouth1 | July 24, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

-----------------------------------
And when either the Wal-mart or the Real property is sold......????

It will be taxed!!! Don't worry

On both cite examples, there has been no taxable event upon which taxes can be levied. On the Steinbrenner property, while the property will not be subject to estate tax (and the benefits of a step-up in basis), it will be subject to capital gains tax, because the new heir will take the property at the original basis, not the basis at the time of death, and any capital gains will be measured from George Steinbrenner's purchase of the property, not the date of inheritance.

Posted by: VALAWYER1 | July 25, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Will VALAWYER1 please go back and read my first post. I went through this when my mother died. I and my brother paid no (zero, none, nada) tax. Th estate sold the stocks and paid no tax. We got the money.

AND THERE WAS NO TAX!!

Posted by: lensch | July 26, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

It always helps your argument, if you can quote a former HUMAN SHIELD for Saddam Hussein - McDermott. Or the only Self Proclaimed SOCIALIST, from the "Dave's not here, man" State. Or the In and Out of JAIL, "Labor Leader" - Dickey Boy TRUMKA. (Are there any 'Labor leaders' who HAVEN'T served time in a Federal Pen?) And, last but nowhere near the least, the HUGE CROOK BANKER - Robert Rubin. A guy who's finger prints are all over the BANKING COLLAPSE DEBACLE.
That's quite the lineup, Katrina. What's the matter? Where's the Big Kahuna? And Mrs. Big Kahuna? Where is the IMPEACHED, Convicted of EXPOSING HIMSELF to a woman he'd never met before, RAPIST - Bill Clinton? And Mrs, I don't know how those BILLING RECORDS got on my reading room table, Clinton?
Right. They were putting on a $2 MILLION Wedding for their pail of worms looking Daughter.
I guess things ARE getting more unequal around here. MY Wedding cost $4,ooo. The TAX CHEAT-Charlie Rangel. The Crooked Son of a Crooked Father, Friend of Angelo-Chris Dodd. Barney K Y Frank. The Widow Chasing, Tax Dodging BILLIONARE - John F-ing Kerry. The UBER RICH Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Frankenfeinstein.
Those are some kinda FRIENDS you got there, Katrina. I know that we're all gonna pay attention to you and all of your DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO, buddies. In fact. I'm writing the CHECK, even as I speak.
Idiot. Get the H*LL outta my country, you STUPID, COMMUNIST, B***H!

Posted by: GoomyGommy | July 26, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

By the way. These are NOT transfers of money, or assets, from "One person to another". These are Money and Assets HANDED DOWN TO FAMILY. And it's none of anybodys' G*DD*MN BUSINESS. Why don't all of you PUKE PROGRESSIVES go down to VENEZUELA? Do your GOOSE STEPPING someplace else!

Posted by: GoomyGommy | July 26, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Don't like the estate tax??? Ok, lets repeal and replace it with an inheratence tax. Anything over $250k from an inheritance should be taxed at 99% except where its necessary for the upkeep and raising of children or the care of the infirm. No one should be rich because of an accident of birth.

Posted by: pishposh1 | July 26, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Why now, with two very expensive wars, an economic depression, and a record deficit, are we thinking about rewriting a tax code to give the richest Americans yet another break?

Our nation is on the precipice of a grave decline. The estate tax raises tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year from those Americans benefiting the most from the prosperity and opportunity this nation represents. To put it in statistical terms, the estate tax only applies to less than one percent of all estates.

The rich are not the enemy, but to shift their fair share of our national burden onto the middle class is entirely irresponsible. Nobody should be loosening their belt when our national debt is in the tens of trillions, particularly those whose fortunes provide them lifetimes of financial comfort.

Posted by: etax | July 27, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

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