Whoopi Goldberg isn’t the first celebrity talk show host to speak out against the death tax. Oprah Winfrey once told an interviewer: “I think it’s so irritating that once I die, 55 percent of my money goes to the United States government…You know why it’s so irritating? Because you already paid nearly 50 percent when the money was earned.”
What Warren Buffett and Bill Gates don’t get that Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey do is that the battle over the estate tax isn’t about rich people paying more in taxes. The problem with the estate tax is that it’s a flawed tax – it’s unfair. As Oprah and Whoopi point out, they’ve already paid taxes on their income, so why do they have to pay a second tax (at a much higher rate) when they die?
The more pressing problem for manufacturers is that the value of the estate is based on assets – like businesses, trucks and machinery. Of course the tax must be made in cash – so people often have to sell things like businesses, trucks and machinery to pay the tax. That’s not good for the economy. And, it’s unfortunately very inconvenient for families who have other things on their minds…like the death of a loved one.
(From Carter Wood): Useful readers’ comments to an earlier post on the subject here.
UPDATE (CW – 8 p.m.): Here’s a challenge from a commenter: “I don’t think you can document a single case of someone having to sell a truck or a piece of machinery to pay the estate tax. Not one.”
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