Senator Grassley on the Death Tax

By November 14, 2007Taxation

From the opening statement of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) at the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the death tax.

I believe that the estate tax, or death tax, is unjust from a philosophical and from a technical viewpoint. From a philosophical perspective, I have always said that death should not be a taxable event. There is something fundamentally wrong when the government swoops in after a funeral to take a cut of what that person had worked their whole life for, and has already paid taxes on at least once. Any monetary benefit obtained by any individual is either taxed or not taxed for a very specific reason. As long as a person has accumulated an estate in accordance with the law, the government should not be able to profit from that person’s death.

From a technical standpoint the death tax is fatally flawed in that, owing to a due date of nine months after a death, the estate tax forces survivors to liquidate assets in economically poor circumstances. Instead of the free market determining when assets are bought or sold, the death tax makes that determination. As most people are not privy to the exact date they will hand over half of everything they own to the government, the death tax is fundamentally not fair.

Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-MT) statement is here. Still waiting for the Buffett link. Omaha World-Herald story is here.

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