Letter To The Editor

The estate tax has been an important source of revenue for the federal government, in one form or another, since 1916.

Once again, the GOP is stepping up its calls to make tax cuts (for the rich) permanent and are aggressively promoting a repeal of the estate tax. The estate tax, now dubbed the “Death Tax” by neo-conservatives, affects only the very richest of Americans — and then only the heirs of multi-millionaires and billionaires. As if it really matters. The decendent is not affected at all by the estate tax, since he/she is now pushing up daisies — only his/her heirs may be affected by the estate tax. I’m not so sure the overwhelming majority of Americans have any interest in perpetuating what has become an aristocracy of overwhelming wealth, power and influence.

So, one might ask, “Why tax inheritors of large fortunes?”  Because it’s still an important source of federal revenue.

Conservatives deceitfully portray the estate tax as a “death tax” on small, family-owned businesses. The fact of the matter is that less than 1 percent of the people that inherit an estate pay any estate tax at all, and half of the revenue from that tax comes from estates valued at $10 million or more. As the estate tax law is now constituted, only an individual inheriting more than $5 million (couples, $10 million) will pay the estate tax. The current inheritance tax on estates is 35 percent, but only on the amount exceeding $5 million ($10 million for couples).

The consequence of repealing the estate tax is this: the loss in federal revenue would be staggering — an estimated $680 billion dollars over the next decade. This loss of revenue, combined with the tax reductions on unearned income, is going to bring us to the point of no return; adding further to our national debt is unsustainable. We may have already reached that point of no return.