Inequality.org

A project of the
Institute for Policy Studies

Blogging Our Grand Divide

Why Is Trump Out to Ax Estate Taxes?

There’s a saying that applies to the most vociferous political opponents of the estate tax: Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.

Every four years, Republican presidential candidates engage in a symbolic ritual of estate tax batting practice. Like George W. Bush and Mitt Romney of years past, Donald Trump is no different.

Trump Bush
“No family will have to pay the death tax,” Trump said in Detroit. “We will repeal it.”

In fact, we shouldn’t repeal a tax that President Theodore Roosevelt advocated as a brake on the dangerous concentration of wealth and power. The estate tax is the only levy that America’s richest citizens will pay as they pass on great wealth to their heirs. Over the next decade, it will raise an estimated $270 billion, funds that can be invested in education and infrastructure to expand the wealth-building opportunities for the well-to-do and everyone else.

The tax on inheritances is limited — fewer than 2 in 1,000 estates is large enough to be subject to it. It isn’t a death tax: It targets a transfer of wealth, income or property, just as most federal taxes do. Nor is it a double tax: The bulk of the wealth subject to estate taxes is in appreciated capital assets and has never been subject to any tax.

It’s telling that the candidates who campaign on a platform of repealing the estate tax grew up in wealthy families where just such appreciated assets have made the tax a personal issue. Yet they cast themselves as examples of individual deservedness and success, everyday people who worked hard, paid their taxes and want to pass their already-taxed wealth on to their children.

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times.

  • Thomas A Dillon

    Chuck,
    For someone who is strongly in favor of the “inherited wealth tax” why do you continue to use the GOP talking point and refer to it as a “death tax” even though I understand you are using it to define what it isn’t? It is still wrong.
    Instead of saying what it isn’t and using the term “death tax” why don’t you just say, “the inherited wealth tax is.”
    One of the things I am appalled about is how often progressives in the media repeat a GOP talking point which reinforces the GOP narrative. Our friends on the other side rarely are so careless.
    Remember, the “framing” of the term death tax has a negative connotation. Death bad, tax bad, and the GOP are the ones who will save the American people of this injustice brought on them by those terrible Democrats/progressives.

Read previous post:
Baltimore, one affordable-housing activist noted at a late August City Hall hearing, “should not be in the business of subsidizing affluent enclaves” like the proposed Port Covington project.
A Call for Equitable Development

In Baltimore, activists are urging the city to move beyond “tax increment financing” that privileges billionaires at public expense. TIF...

Close