Death Tax: THAT’s an Argument? Blah, Blah, Blah?

By April 10, 2009Taxation

Michael Kinsley, “Democrats for Rich Heirs?“:

Oh, small business blah blah blah. For the umpteenth time: Big businesses (such as General Motors) are mostly owned by people of small means (workers through their pension funds, 401(k)s and so on). To be affected by the estate tax, a business must be owned by someone of large means: at least $7 million. Small businesses come and go. Yes, they create jobs disproportionately. They also eliminate jobs disproportionately. There’s nothing wrong with small businesses, but there is no reason of fairness or efficiency that they deserve special treatment.

Oh, Michael Kinsley blah blah blah.

That not being an adequate retort, we’ll instead cite Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), sponsor of the Senate amendment to reduce the death tax. From her floor statement, April 2:

Because my time is limited, I wish to take a moment to read to you a few excerpts from an editorial that appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette earlier this year. It was submitted by a member of a family who runs a timber operation in southwest Arkansas and that has been in the family since 1907. He said:

The estate tax kills jobs. It kills companies that provide jobs. In the process it kills towns and communities, particularly those in rural areas dependent upon the land and local industry.

Five times this man’s family has been subjected to the estate tax—five times. He goes on:

Between the 1950s and 1980s, vast amounts of money—tens of millions of dollars—were raised to pay the tax. Lands were clear cut, mills liquidated, communities destroyed. . . The next hit will be too great.

Think about this type of family business. They have grown their business, reinvested in it over a century’s worth of time, put almost all their profits back into it, and now this particular company employs over 1,000 Arkansans and has multiple mills that are worth a good bit of money—millions of dollars.

Blahing aside, doesn’t the man make a compelling argument economically, that the death tax destroys wealth and investment and jobs?


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