The estate tax is levied upon the "taxable estate" of a fantastically wealthy deceased person to any recipient (with certain allowances made for federally-recognized spouses and charitable organizations). The vast majority of people are unaffected by the estate tax. As of 2011, $5 million can be transferred from the taxable estate of a deceased individual without becoming eligible for the estate tax.
Cry Wolf Quotes
[H]igh inheritance and estate taxes do compel the sale of assets, with consequent changes in ownership, shifts in management and generally dislocating effects.
In defense of the Federal estate tax it is said that it will tend to check the growth of large fortunes. But is not such a Federal death tax a penalty on industry, thrift, and business success? The estate tax is communistic in essence; and no party except the Socialist party endorses the Federal estate tax.
Confiscation of private wealth does not make the public or even its agent, the government, rich. It does not create equality of wealth, but an equality of poverty.
They [higher estate tax and provisions for publicity of individual tax returns] are both not only stupid but malevolent expressions of the class feeling and socialist theorizing which are infecting American thought and even shaping our laws… It is astonishing that an American congress with, presumably, some sense at least of the significance of American experience and achievement and some sense of the cause and meaning of the Russian folly before it, should care or dare to experiment in confiscation.