Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Estate Tax Complainers

Before I start, let me just tell you that there was frost on my car this morning. I live in northern Virginia and it's May 3rd. Stop the insanity, and turn up the heat. It's almost summer!

Interestingly, most of the people that complain about the Estate Tax are not wealthy enough to have to pay it. Opponents call it the "Death Tax". I try not to get hung up on semantics, so you can call it what you wish. I found a handy calculator on a financial planning site. Put in your info. Do you qualify for the estate tax at all? It's doubtful. I hope that one day I qualify for it, and if I do, I guarantee that I won't complain about it! I would undoubtedly be among the top percent or two of the best off people in the world! I can understand the small business and farm angle. Make the cap higher on those so that there is less of a tax burden on them, but don't simply reward wealth over work for individuals. It is very easy to make money with money as it is. Isn't this kind of "perpetual hereditary aristocracy" something that we have always tried to avoid perpetuating? (I just made that phrase up, but that's what it is.) Is it really too much to expect that the great-great grandchildren of today's upper class might have to actually work a little bit?

Here is a snippet from an article from a few weeks ago on the subject.

The House vote pitted repeal proponents, who held that a tax on inheritances is fundamentally unfair, against Democrats, who questioned how Congress could support a tax cut largely for the affluent that would cost $290 billion over 10 years, in the face of record budget deficits.

As an aside, isn't it funny how on this and certain other issues, many Republicans will say things like "fundamentally unfair" or "it's perfectly obvious", and "everyone knows that...". I get a lot of those sorts of comments from my Republican friends that post here too. They never lack for moral certainty, even when their case is very difficult to prove. Don't you want to know who is going to pay for this $290 billion with a "b" tax break, if it passes? No, it isn't businesses, or the wealthy who got the tax break in the first place. You and I pay, or our children, or grandchildren. Is this what passes for "fair" in your book? It does not in mine. "It's double taxation" you say? OK, fine, so how do you propose we pay for it then, aside from trying to cut waste that we should be trying to cut anyway? Is there a plan in place? It certainly doesn't seem like it, and it's this kind of continued short-sightedness on tax policy that will get us in trouble in the years to come.

18 comments:

Two Dogs said...

I find it odd that you think that $15,000 is alot of money to transfer to your spouse. (And yes, I know the lifetime exemption is $750,000) My wife died last year four days before her 37th birthday and I am still battling the Feds. Erik, "estates" have already had tax paid on them, that's why they are estates. Since Carla died with her name on the deed of our thirty acres, I have been forced to pay the taxes as if she had sold her share to me. This is insult to injury.

Anyone that thinks the death tax is a good idea, needs to dig their head outta their ass, because I have been there recently.

Two Dogs said...

And furthermore, if you think that 110,000k a year is an awful lot of money, I would suggest that you go to work for Wal-Mart. You could be making that within 12 years after starting as a stock-boy.

Erik Grow said...

Yes, I remember the post about your wife last week on your blog. I wish you the best of luck with your recovery.

First, I don't understand why the estate tax applies to something owned by the non-surviving spouse. What was the net worth of the property, and what percent had to be paid? Is that normal? If that is the case, then that part of the law should certainly be changed. It shouldn't be used to tax the same generation when there is a spouse surviving!

Also, out of curiosity, could you have transferred it to yourself before she died? (If it was cancer and not a car accident that killed her for instance, I don't think you ever said).

The "double taxation" thing again. OK, who makes up the 290B difference then?

120K? At Wal-Mart? OK, THAT is just begging for proof. Find a front-line staff member that earns HALF that base salary after 12 years and I'll buy YOU a beer!

Two Dogs said...

Thanks for the luck wishing, I am really doing pretty good.

Erik, that is exactly what estate taxes are. Raping the living for not forseeing the death. You have a lifetimie exemption of 1.5 million. Only 750k to the spouse.

And the majority of the estate taxes are exactly what I am talking about. If you want to rape the Rockefellers, well there's only so many of them. When will Leftists ever figure out that taxation hurts everybody?

Erik, if you fail to claim your lifetime exemption before death, it is a 60% gift tax. That is on any amount. These are not properties that are not owned free and clear. Carla and I paid this stuff off in 2000. 30 acres, just about 240k. And the house was an additional 195k. At 60%. Your party's ridiculous claim that I am wealthy is absolutely insane.

Carla died of a heart attack. And Erik, my point is this: The Estate taxes (death taxes)overwhelmingly affect a grieving spouse. And furthermore cause old family farms to have to divest property that has been in the family for generations. One of my friends had to go to the Department of Archives and History to keep an antebellum home from being torn down to use the land for agribusiness. This is Democrat bullshit.

If you don't steal the money in taxes to begin with, there is no 290 Billion. Damn, boy, it's MY DAMN MONEY AND PROPERTY, not the almighty Federal Government's. Liberals need to understand that every stinking cent that flows into DC, will be spent at a rate of 4 times.

And yes, Erik, Wal-Mart doesn't want minimum wage workers. 12 years is the average to make floor manager. With salary and incentives, about 120k.

nicnerd said...

I know the twodogs is correct because the same crap happened to my brother. When his wife and son unexpectedly died, he had to pay taxes on the house that he jointly owned with her. Meanwhile, he was by no means wealthy, working two jobs and had to find a new home and child care for his two surviving children. Every time Democrats pitch this (Erik included) they try to portray some greedy wealthy person just trying to keep their horde.

OK, so remove that part of the argument and say that it is not an issue. Fundamentally, why should the government get to tax an estate? HOw have they earned this right? What service have they provided to the deceased? You say, how will the make up for the alleged shortfall? Why did the government budget for money that does not rightfully belong to them?

To twist on the how many lightbulbs type questions, I ask you Erik:

How many times can you tax a dollar? When is enough, enough?

Erik Grow said...

I am not "portraying" everything as falling under the same category. I already said that there are situations where it seems this law needs to be changed. Also, the loophole that Two Dogs was stuck in should be changed, because that was his spouse. The law was intended I believe to stop the "landed gentry" from just perpetuating itself for centuries like it was in Europe for a long time. It should not be between the same generation. As for your brother nicnerd, if they owned everything jointly, this is not how I have ever understood the estate tax to work. Why did my grampa not have to pay taxes when my grandma died then? They were certainly far from rich, but so I believe was your brother's family at the time. I think there must be more to it with your brother's situation.

As for who "deserves" what, you know, it would be great to pay less in taxes. It would be nice to have no government waste. I know this administration is committed to cutting taxes, of course it doesn't care that it is running up deficits and still spending like it's going out of style. The BOTTOM LINE is that as it stands TODAY we are all going to be paying this for a long time. I don't see W changing that equation any time soon, and I'm surprised that you two are not more concerned about what lies ahead.

Two Dogs said...

Erik, the loophole that needs to be closed is the one that allows government to tax something that is passed down from generation to generation. My situation is not the exception, but the rule. There are again, only so many Rockefellers in this world, the main people who are harmed are the family farm people.

This is akin to taxing your groceries when you leave the store, then again when you feed them to your kids.

Cro said...

First, I don't understand why the estate tax applies to....

That's right. You don't understand why the estate tax is unfair. Not because it means the rich get to keep money...it's unfair because the labor used to amass the estate has ALREADY been taxed. The estate tax is just a redistribution scheme... that is inherently unfair. We're not talking about money raised to build schools etc. We're talking about double taxation. period.

As a liberal you fundamentaly mis-understand why Conservatives are pro-tax cut. It has nothing to do with Rich vs. Poor. It is all about governmental power. A govt. starved of tax funds WILL have to stop spending. All the crap about how do we "pay" for a tax break is non-sense. Nobody PAYS to keep what is already theirs. You work from the assumption that the money belongs to the government. It does not. It belongs to the people.... as in "We the people...."

I worked in Brasil for quite a time and was told by a fellow IT guy there about the difference between their govt. and ours. He said when Americans talk about their govt. they always say "their". It's possesive, the govt. belongs to them. When Brasilians talk about the govt., they speak of it as a third person/entity. It is where one goes to get rich. That is where liberal taxation and policies will take America.

Always remember, "That govt. which governs least, governs best."

Two Dogs said...

Kudos, Cro. Another intelligent voice that is much needed.

Erik Grow said...

What you fail to note is that I also want the government to cut spending. (Doesn't sound like a "liberal" position to me...) I just don't have the confidence that you seem to have that W is going to do that. Do you really see that happening? Do you think that the deficits that we are running are without consequence?

Erik Grow said...

By the way, why is it that people that argue with me ignore things I say that would make me less liberal? Any time that I make clear that I'm a deficit hawk, or that I think government needs to cut waste, it seems to be ignored. I just get more comments about how I'm "liberal", even after I brought up that I think the current estate tax *does* have flaws.

Cro said...

I just get more comments about how I'm "liberal", even after I brought up that I think the current estate tax *does* have flaws.

Have you not actually read your own Blog? Do you THINK your're conservative? Then why should we? As to your flaws... according to your own post you dis-approve of repealling the tax. If you don't believe in it...don't just point out the flaws...kill the tax.

I'm a deficit hawk, or that I think government needs to cut waste

Then why vote for a Democrat? (You know you did).... Seriously, when was the last time a Democratic Congress reduced spending? WHEN?

A Republican Congress is not perfect in this area...but they are a damn sight better than a Democratic one.

Erik Grow said...

Yikes. Have you taken a look at this Congress' spending record? It's out of sight. I am not conservative. Is there such a thing as moderate? If there is, then I would put myself there.

Read http://erikgrow.blogspot.com/2005/03/liberal-and-conservative-litmus-test.html and http://erikgrow.blogspot.com/2005/04/ask-and-ye-shall-receive-pilgrims.html before you try to categorize me.

Cro said...

You're ducking the question. When was the last time a Democratic controlled Congress REDUCED the budget....and I don't mean slowed the growth...I mean CUT the budget? And what in the Democratic platform makes you think they are capable or even WILLIING to do so if they got into power?

As for your being a moderate.... a moderate what? Moderate is an adjective, it modifies a noun.

Stop being wishy-washy, stand up for what you believe in. And just admit that you're a liberal. Nothing wrong with that, you know.... well aside from thinking that the govt. is here to help you....

Erik Grow said...

Cut the budget? When was the budget cut by anyone, period? I'm sure they haven't in recent history for sure, Democrats and Republicans too. The president has to sign the budget too, and Clinton did sign lots of Republican budgets. HW Bush signed Democrat budgets, W signed a budget from a Democrat-controlled Senate once or twice too.

I am a moderate Democrat. Did you read those two posts? It explains it in great detail. Nothing wishy-washy about me. Moderate or centrist or whatever doesn't mean you have no position. It simply means you are not uniformly left or right on everything, especially on items where your own party has factions on an issue. I am only liberal if there is no such thing as moderate. Don't get me started on semantics. Call it what you want. Moderate is the generally accepted term for someone that is not largely uniformly left or right on all issues.

Two Dogs said...

Erik, the deficit argument is a liberal one. Granted having a large debt and deficit is not the way to run your household, but if you had any idea what you are talking about, you would know that the problem is not the deficit, but the spending on every one of your pet Liberal ideas. You want health care paid for by me, you want federal schools paid for by me, and you want to tax my property until it is gone.

This is not a moderate position, it is 100% Leftist.

Erik Grow said...

I never even touched on that stuff yet. A good number of those programs are one hundred percent waste, however they count for a pretty small percent of the overall budget. I don't want health care paid for by you either! This is part of your problem. You put a bunch of left-wing words in my mouth, and then say I'm liberal based on what YOU say that I think! I tell you where you are incorrect, and then a week later you come back at me with the SAME types of words that I never said. Pointless. Why even bother arguing when you just make crap up?

The deficit and spending are BOTH out of control. Your team has both branches right now, so why are THEY sitting on their hands while this spirals further?

Anonymous said...

The 290 billion comes from people that don't bother with estate planning. The property was paid off in 2000 and was in your wife's name only? You have only yourself to blame for that one.