Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, January 8, 2010

Letters to the Editor Regarding the Estate Tax

Estat taxI previously reported on a New York Times editorial entitled An Estate Tax Mess.  The Times received and published a number of letters to the editor in response to this editorial.  A couple of the responses are below:

Taxation should not be viewed as a game with winners and losers. The burdens of society should be shared by all in an equitable manner.

An estate tax with a high marginal rate that affects only the ultra-affluent is perceived by those affected as confiscatory of the fruits of a life’s labor and tends to invite tax trickery.

By contrast, a carryover basis fairly extends the capital gains tax that was not paid on accumulated appreciation in one’s lifetime to the point in time when the property is sold by the next generation.

So, too, a lower estate tax exemption (for example, $1 million), coupled with lower progressive estate tax rates and a return of the state death tax credit, would also foster a perception of fairness.  . . . 

According to your editorial, “More than 99 percent of all estates are exempt, so there is no reason to reduce or repeal the tax.”

Based on this logic, I propose an additional layer of taxes on newspaper editors. Surely this will affect significantly less than 1 percent of taxpayers; therefore there is no reason not to impose such a tax. Would you agree?

See Letters, Taxing the Estate Heirs: What's Fair?, NY Times, Dec. 31, 2009; An Estate Tax Mess, at A26, Dec. 27, 2009; see also my prior post.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this to my attention.


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