I grew up in a lower middle-class rural family. I inherited no assets from my parents. But after a successful entrepreneurial career I now have plenty of money to give each of my kids and grandkids a head start with an advanced education, a car, and even a house here in Silicon Valley. I have the ability with or without an estate tax to leave enough for my kids such that they never need to work. So why do I need a tax break by eliminating the estate tax? The truth is I don’t. And I shouldn’t get one.
Dropping the estate tax and the generation-skipping tax is the most regressive tax policy one could even imagine. Eliminating the estate tax would mean that rich kids get even more money – unlimited amounts of money – tax free! And then those rich kids could pass on even more money to their kids, with no limit. The already unbearable inequality gap between the super-rich and every other citizen in the United States would explode. If the intent is to create a permanently-entrenched ruling class, like the one this country rebelled against in 1776, then eliminating the estate tax is a great way to do that.
I don’t need a tax break for my estate tax, and my kids don’t deserve to be pawns (or kings) in the divisive game already played by the super-rich. If anything, the estate tax needs to be larger on the top 1%, not less. And the truth is that the threshold for the estate tax is so high that it doesn’t even affect all of the top 1%! In fact, only 2 out of every 1000 estates ever pay any estate tax at all. This is a tax that only affects the richest 0.25%, hardly the people in desperate need of tax relief.
The continued concentration of wealth is bad for our democracy. It feeds disparity and allows the super-rich to lobby and control governments to make themselves even wealthier. For decades the estate tax has helped limit this concentration, making our society fairer, more equal, and more prosperous by requiring wealthy heirs to contribute to the running of this country. We need to protect it. Repealing the estate tax would be not just a step, but a massive leap in the wrong direction.