Following a link supplied in a comment on my last mention of it, I found the father of Bill Gates offering some arguments for the death tax here.. I’d like to look at them a little closer…
“In a time of budget deficits, repealing the tax would provide a $1 trillion tax break over 20 years for those best able to pay taxes. That would force less-wealthy people to pay more. The tax falls only on estates of at least $1 million for an individual or $2 million for a couple, and the exemptions will rise through the years.”
Actually, instead of “forcing” other people to pay more, it should “force” congress to spend less. By the way, that 1 trillion dollar break sounds impressive, until you realize that the government will collect over 40 trillion in tax revenues over that same time.That represents a 2.5% discount, surely they can cinch the belt tighter by 2.5%? Any time someone says that it’s better for the government to have money instead of citizens, I am reminded of how little people really think about what they are saying.
“Tax opponents were asked to find a farm that had been lost because of the tax, Collins said, and “they could not find a single example.”
Fair enough, no farms were lost. But it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that people on the margin would be hurt pretty badly if they wanted to keep their parent’s business. Why should they have to suffer at all?
“The tax is a powerful incentive for the wealthy to put their money into foundations and other charities, because contributions are fully deductible. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, which sponsored Wednesday’s appearance, released research estimating that repeal would cost charities $9.6 billion a year nationally and $196 million in Minnesota, based on 2001 giving and bequests.”
If we are to believe this figure, we have to keep it in perspective. For the sake of argument we’ll assume that all that money would indeed be lost to charities. Does the phrase “The ends do not justify the means” mean anything? Sure. they give the money to charities, but only to avoid giving it to the government. The assumption is that they’d rather give it to their heirs but they are forced to do something else. That isn’t right. The government should never be in a position to dictate to a person what they have to do with what they own.
“Huge wealth — perhaps $41 trillion — will transfer from one generation to another in the next few years, and young heirs would be able to “get up in the morning and do anything they want to do,” said Gates, who is cochairman of a foundation that has given away billions of dollars of his son’s wealth. “Is it a good thing for those kids?”
Here’s a thought, it’s none of your fucking business how somebody decides to provide for their kids. Christ Almighty, it doesn’t get any clearer than this… We know what’s best for your kids, and the government should force you to do what we think is right. Hello? Fascism anyone? Mr. Gates only has to look at his son to get an idea of what a fabulously wealthy person might do, it certainly hasn’t hurt Bill Gates’ charitable streak to have so much money, are his kids such bastards that they’d stop doing that?
“And people who made fortunes through advances in technology, much of it government funded, have an obligation to give back.”
Umm, isn’t the reason that they are fantastically rich because they have provided a product or service that everyone uses or likes? The government and everyone that uses that product has made lots of money with it or otherwise enjoyed it. Seems to me that they have done their job and they have been paid for it. Nobody “owes” anything to anyone.
In short, monetary arguments about the death tax are silly. It represents a tiny fraction of the tax revenue collected, but it represents a decent chunk of any estate that is affected by it. There is no moral justification for this. The forcible taking of money and/or property from your heirs is pretty low. The fact that the people affected are “rich” does not change the morality of the situation, no one has any right to take money from someone without giving something to them in return. Why robbery of the rich is condoned I’ll never know or understand.