9 thoughts on “Death Tax Repeal — Senate Votes it Down

  1. Kiersten, exactly how much qualifies a person as “extra-super-rich”? And what I find most offensive is your assertion that the cuts would be “giving away” this money. Allowing people who work hard and succeed to keep their money is not the government giving it away.

  2. Actually, if I’m not mistaken in 2010 it is still slated to expire for one year and go back to a higher tax rate.

    The real “hurt” is still on the books because wealth income (capital gains and dividends) taxes were substantially reduced as was the top bracket.

    The reality is phantom entities in the form of trusts, LLC’s and LPs are created to shield most taxes and allow for substantial deductions that us mere mortals are not permitted.

    I know. I help design and value some of these vehicles.

    I guess you can say “I biting the proverbial hand.”

  3. Mike, what I find offensive is your insistence that this so-called “war” on terror is an absolute necessity, and yet you refuse to pay for it. Instead, you want my kids–and probably their kids to pay to keep you all safe and secure.

    Mike, we’re talking about a TRILLION dollars. If we’re lucky, that’s about what the war in Iraq is going to cost when all is said and done. Where exactly is that money going to come from? Let me give you a hint: cutting every single social service program isn’t going to come close.

    And another thing: the estate tax was implemented in 1916 in preparation for involvement in WWI. Pres Wilson decided that this was the sacrifice that the wealthy could make. Now, apparently, the wealthy today can’t be asked to sacrifice ANYTHING for the good of the country.

    You say it’s their money. But face it, if the Army wasn’t there to keep the peace throughout much of the world, the scope for making money would be very much restricted. In effect, the US Army is protecting their overseas investments. In other words, the people who pay estate taxes are simply paying for the security services they receive. Think they’d be able to invest as freely if I wasn’t subsidizing the military for them?

    And let’s also address the fact that the estate tax hits the richest of the rich. The Paris Hiltons of the world. No family farms. No small businesses. None of those lies perpetrated by the right wing noise machine on this.

    So what is your solution, Mike? Shall we clap our hands really hard an hope that the treasury fills up? Because those are your choices, Mike. The “war” on terror or cutting estate taxes? And it’s about that stark because there isn’t enough money to cut from social services to make up the difference.

    So, yeah, I’m offended by your demand for safety on one hand, and your unwillingness to pay for it on the other out of some delusional idea that you will some day have enough money to be effected, or because you put some twisted ideology in front of real, hard facts.

  4. Mike, You mean all those people who work really hard at being born into the right family and inheriting their money? Are those the people you are referring to?

    Beyond that, I think I will let some people who I consider extra-super-rich do the talking on whether the estate tax is fair and a good thing for our country as a whole:

    “The estate tax should be regarded as just paying back to the country for all the wonderful things it’s made possible for the people who have that wealth,� said Bill Gates Sr. in an audio statement played at the press conference. “I don’t think there’s any great societal goal being served by inherited wealth. And certainly there’s no sensible argument that I can think of for insisting on being able to pass the last penny of $100 million on to your three kids.�

    Added Elizabeth Letzler, an investment manager from New York who will be subject to the estate tax and who spoke at the press conference, “The current estate tax structure should permit any wealthy household to pass on a legacy of financial security, education and family heirlooms to the next generations.� She challenged the families showcased in the report: “Do something spectacular during your life-time investing in the social welfare and well-being of the children and grandchildren at the bottom of the pyramid.� Her daughter Stephanie, also in attendance, said, “If keeping the estate tax means a step closer to a debt-free treasury, a step closer to improved health care, Social Security, education, and every other program that makes me proud to be an American, show me where to sign the check.�

    Paul Newman, actor and founder of Newman’s Own food company, agreed in a separate statement: “For those of us lucky enough to be born in this country and to have flourished here, the estate tax is a reasonable and appropriate way to return something to the common good. I’m proud to be among those supporting preservation of this tax, which is one of the fairest taxes we have.�

    More info is available here:


  5. “You mean all those people who work really hard at being born into the right family and inheriting their money? Are those the people you are referring to?”

    Is that what it’s really all about? A jealousy that some inherit wealth. So you see the death tax as more of a redistribution of wealth then?

    It’s easy to listen to people who are so wealthy they have had everything they have ever wanted. Bill Gates lives in a house that’s valued at over $100 million. His situation is extreme. But of course, all three are allowed to give away as much as they want before their deaths, or through their wills.

    I want to know how much you think it takes to be considered, in your eyes, “extra-super-rich”. Is it a million? How about two million? Ten million? Of is just more than what you will have saved for your kids? Is there an answer to that question?

  6. Hey, Mike. How about an estate of $3.5M as the lower limit? Does an estate (not net worth) of $3.5M qualify as super-rich? Sure does in my book. As it stands, that’s where the estate tax first kicks in.

    There’s YOUR answer, now it’s time for you to answer some questions for us.

    You see, I found it ‘offensive’ (which was your word) how you attacked the author as ‘jealous’ and then totally ignored my question to you. How are you going to pay for your ‘war’ on terrorism, Mike? Repealing the estate tax would cost the treasury $1Trillion. That’s what the war in Iraq is going to cost, if it hasn’t already. Which is more important? Come on, Mike, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

    You want to protect your precious hide by sending our troops to Iraq, but you want my kids to pay for it. Because that’s what’s going to happen. We’re running a huge deficit that someone has to pay for. So why shouldn’t people making a lot of money pay for the protections that allow them to make that money? Come on, Mike, we’re waiting.

    Since you’ve not made the connection, the US Military makes the world a very safe place. That makes it very safe to invest. The people making money off those investments should pay for that protection, shouldn’t they? Or are you going to let them free-load off the rest of us? Because that’s what they’d be doing. So which is it? Come on, Mike. Answer the question.

    An estate of $3.5M, Mike. That’s where it starts. That is hardly confiscatory.

    So which is it, Mike? The’war’ on terrorism, or repealing the estate tax? Grow up, Mike, and face the consequences of your actions. Which is it? Or how are you going to do both? And don’t hand me any crap about social programs, because cutting those won’t come close to $1T. So answer the question, Mike.

  7. To clarify, currently individual estates over $2 million are subject to the estate tax, and couples are exempt up to $4 million. The individual exemption is scheduled to increase to $3.5 million in 2009. More information is available here:


  8. Kiersten, you are correct. And I believe the tax rate above the $2 million is 46%. This tax is on top of the income, sales, and property taxes already paid in a lifetime. Please don’t think I’m giving you a hard time. I really am interested in what you consider to be super rich. To me, an estate worth $2 million or $4 million is sizable, but it doesn’t take an extremely wealthy person to reach this level, particularly with the sharp increase in property values. Also, doesn’t a single cap like the one above create a regional disparity? The cost of living in New England, NY, NJ, and places on the Pacific Coast like San Fran are far greater than those in the South and Midwest.

  9. My apologies. The chart I was looking at for the $3.5M/5% was not the current plan. It was, apparently an alternative proposal. There is no excuse, and shame on me for getting that wrong. It’s crucial to get the facts straight. Thank you, Kiersten, for correcting the record.

    However, Mike, this doesn’t let you off the hook. Whatever the rate, the fact remains that repealing the estate tax would take $1Trillion out of he budget.

    So, Mike, I’m still waiting for my answer. How you going to pay for the ‘war’ on ‘terrorism’ if you allow the permanent repeal? You still need to answer the question, Mike.

    Keep in mind that the US Military is, in effect, a huge subsidy paid to multinationals, and especially the oil companies. The military polices the world, allowing an unprecedented international flow of capital between companies. Who’s making money on that? Why should I subsidize the military for these people?

    Oh, and I like the “$2M estate isn’t extremely wealthy.” Remember, Mike, the family farm/small business canards were lies. When asked to produce examples of either, the Republican proponents of the repeal were unable to do so.

    We’re still waiting for your answer, Mike. How you going to pay for your ‘war’ on ‘terror’? Show some courage and quit trying to duck the question.

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