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Pull The Tube

inheritance tax graphic
This column was written by Ned Rice.
It's a classic American archetype: father and son gazing upon the fruit of a lifetime of toil, each contemplating mortality and the legacy each generation bequeaths the next. With a deep sigh of contentment the man murmurs, "Just think, son. Someday almost half of this will be yours." Well, that's the way it was between 1916, when the estate tax was made permanent, until 2001 when Congress decided to phase it out. It's been observed that death and taxes are life's only two certainties, to which I would add a third: feeble Whoopi Goldberg "specials" on HBO. But even if death and taxes are unavoidable, does that mean that death itself should be taxable? I think not. Which is why I support the effort currently underway to permanently repeal the so-called, "so-called death tax."

And I say that even though it's another of life's certainties that I will never personally benefit from its repeal.

Defenders of the death tax usually focus on three arguments, summarized as follows: It's not really your money; Uncle Sam really needs it; rich people are evil. A person pushing the first argument says things like "Abolishing the death tax wouldcost the federal government $745 billion over the next decade!" That statement presumes that these projected, yet-to-be-collected taxes (on income that doesn't yet exist) already belong to the federal government which will then have to magically "give them back" to the bad mean rich people. An exchange which would require, at the very minimum, lots of cash and a working time machine. Or to put it another way, it's like asking someone to please give you $100, having them hand you $80, then telling your friends, "That big jerk just cost me 20 bucks!" No, genius, he just gave you 80 bucks. Of his own hard-earned money.