Taxes: Estate

Taxes: Estate

The estate tax or “inheritance tax” is levied upon the transfer of the taxable assets of a deceased person.   First adopted in the nineteen century as temporary taxes to fund wars, the Federal estate tax in its current form has been on the books since 1916 as a vital instrument of progressive taxation.    The tax rate and exemption levels have changed over the years. A number of states also have estate taxes.  Recent attempts at repeal of the federal tax have been prevented but tax rates are lower and exemption levels higher.

Commentary

Taxes and the wealthy

Will Higher Taxes on the Rich Kill Jobs?

December 01, 2010

Cry Wolf Quotes

One of the foundations of our American civilization is equality of opportunity, which presupposes the right of each man to enjoy the fruits of his labor after contributing his fair share to the support of the Government, which protects him and his property. But that is a very different matter from confiscating a part of his wealth, not because the country requires it for the prosecution of a war or some other purpose, but because he seems to have more money than he needs.

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Andrew W. Mellon.
04/01/1924 | Full Details | Law(s): Tax: Estate

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.

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Chicago Daily Tribune,
06/04/1924 | Full Details | Law(s): Tax: Estate

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.

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Washington Post.
02/07/1926 | Full Details | Law(s): Tax: Estate

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.

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Chicago Daily Tribune.
01/17/1932 | Full Details | Law(s): Tax: Estate

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

Estate Tax Policy Brief

By Joseph J. Thorndike

Since at least the 1920s, estate tax opponents had been trotting out the same litany of warnings and complaints about the Estate Tax. 

Resources

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a think tank focused on tax and fiscal policy. They provide in-depth analysis of state issues.

Citizens for Tax Justice is an organization that represents low and middle income citizens in the tax debates on Capitol Hill.