The inheritance tax

We have entered 2017, the year of the Republican takeover. I for one am excited to see what’s coming! (What alternative do I have? My law licenses aren’t any good in Canada or Europe or Britain. So tally ho, Trump!)

One of the many legislative turds we’ll be seeing this year probably will be the final strangling of the federal estate tax, which is already almost completely extinct. I ran across a great and commonsense explanation from the scholar David Mitchell as to why the estate tax is a good thing. And with credit to the Guardian, I’m reprinting it here:

A lot of people don’t like inheritance tax. It feels like stealing from the dead. It isn’t, but it feels like it. The reasoning goes: I worked hard for my money, I paid tax on it when I earned it . . . , so why shouldn’t I be able to leave it all to my children? Why should the taxman get any?

The answer is that, in order to pay for public services, the government should take money out of the economy where it’ll be least missed, where its absence is least likely to plunge people into poverty or reduce consumer spending. The money of the dead is therefore ripe for taxation: the owner no longer needs it, and his or her heirs have been doing OK without it up to now. Inheritance tax doesn’t discourage earning, it discourages dying, which I think we can all get behind.

Our own estate tax is on the way out. Repealing it probably won’t do anything to the fabric of society, other than to lay on a few extra billion in debt. Senator Proxmire’s observation about the value of money rings eternal.

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