Eliminating the Estate Tax The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001 put into effect an incremental increase in estate tax exemption until, in 2010, it is finally eliminated. However, in 2011 the 2001 exemption levels are reinstated. Congress has been attempting to get the estate tax completely repealed, calling it a "death tax," and claiming that it unfairly effects small family-owned businesses and amounts to double taxation. Such claims are patently untrue. A repeal, or even major reduction, of the state tax will result in a significant loss of revenue to the federal treasury and a loss of billions of dollars in charitable donations, all the while benefiting only the wealthiest of the wealthy.
Why an Estate Tax? The federal estate tax (26 U.S.C. Sect. 2001) is one of the oldest and most common forms of taxation. It's a charge upon the decedent's entire estate, regardless of how it is disbursed. Better described as an Inheritance Tax, there are two primary reasons for its popularity over other forms of taxation: (1) the fear of the development of an hereditary aristocracy accumulating vast amounts of wealth and (2) the belief that society plays a role in the accumulation of wealth and therefore taxpayers should get some return on their investment.
The Boston Tea Party The current spate of "tea parties" to object to the corporate giveaways is a great idea. But we must remember that the Boston Tea Party of 1773, after which these groups are named, was to protest the lowering of corporate taxes to the detriment of the people. Now, as then, the issue is about the alliance of money and power that subjugates the many for the benefit of the few.
The Bush Tax Cuts Historically, the only time the tax rates have been as low as they are now was in the 1920s, the years leading to the Great Depression. Drastic cuts began with the Reagan Revolution and have taken us from the greatest creditor nation on earth to the greatest debtor nation. With the Bush Tax Cuts expiring next year the arguments and rhetoric are heating up.