This opinion piece originally appeared at Reuters.com.
All of the legal machinations employed by the Romney’s and others would be totally unnecessary if the death tax was eliminated. After all, that money has already been taxed. In some cases, several times. Just why, after death, does the government have a claim on a family’s wealth? Other than government greed and politicians need for money to buy votes, just what is the government’s claim? Is it the need to ‘spread the wealth’? History shows that most family fortunes are pretty much gone in a few generations. It also shows that such a tax devastates land rich-income poor rancher families and small business builder families.
An government elected by misinformed voters chose to seek approval from wealthy business people over the citizens who elected them and this is the tax code they offered them for that approval. Romney is not an evil guy for following the tax code that exists. He would be a stupid guy if he didn’t We are evil stupid citizens for allowing it to exist. We are evil stupid citizens who continue to elect political prostitutes who slowly destroy us as a nation buy giving the fruits of our labor planted and nurtured with our blood sweat and tears to wealthy money handlers that produce nothing but fees and tax sheltered profits for them selves while shipping our futures to foreign lands for citizens we can not evan communicate with to enjoy. Romney is not the bad guy here. We are.
I doubt that all of the tax loopholes used by the wealthy are Machivellian in nature. They are certainly legal and within the existing tax code. However, right,wrong and legal are seldom the same thing. Moneyed interest have always controlled the direction of the tax system. Nothing surprising about this except perhaps just out of touch we find the average citizen regarding these matters. There are those who advocate reduction or total elimination of the estate tax forgetting that it only applies to a single digit fraction of the population. The old canard of the family-farm being devastated has been debunked many times. Facts do matter and so does truth.
I have always marveled at the tax philosophy that stated that if I gave more than a certain amount of money to progeny that I would have to pay gift tax on that money and that my adult child would have to pay tax on that same money as income. Of course, the law has been changed but a few decades ago I was going to help my eldest buy a house and the bank insisted that I declare it a gift which, because it was over $10,000, would trigger the double taxation. They also demanded to know where on earth I had gotten the money and where my daughter had gotten her money (we both had high paying jobs at the time since were both making about $20K). Their whole attitude so ticked me off that I cashed out a bank account and sold some municipal bonds to finance her purchase myself (less than $70K). So the bank’s attitude lost them a mortgage paying 13.5% and I gained a 10% mortgage.
Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest men of his era, advocated a 100% “death” tax. He believed that absence of a death tax would be bad for democracy, bad for private enterprise and, most importantly, very bad for the inheritors of large estates since “easy” money, money not earned,would lead to degeneracy( perhaps Mr. Freethinker above is on to something when he says that the estate usually dissipates in a few generations- easy come, easy go, dissolute lifestyle).I think there are many wealthy people today as well who advocate high estate taxes for the same reasons as Andrew Carnegie’s.Why would someone even want a life of Riley for his heirs? The estate tax does not involve taxing the wealthy person’s money twice because the deceased isn’t paying the tax- his heirs are paying it. Why shouldn’t they pay tax on the money they inherit? The poor slob that has to work for his money has to pay tax on his earnings. Do we really want to let the children of the wealthy enjoy all the benefits of our American society and not have to contribute to that society financially?They don’t have to work so how are they to contribute if we don’t have them pay an inheritance tax? Seems to me that the $10 million they are allowed to inherit tax-free should give them a nice start in life, then if they want more let them work for it and thereby build character. I do think that those who are land-rich-income poor should have provisions in the tax code for an exemption.But let’s not build a European- style aristocracy by eliminating the estate tax and, by all means, let’s close those Romney loopholes!
This is the guy in charge if he gets elected. So how can he justify taxing the average American when he hides his wealth from paying taxes.