Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Taxing the Dead

It is often been asserted that the only two sure things are death and taxes. The current Democratic caucus is making every effort to combine them to avoid any confusion. There have been various arguments put forth regarding the level at which estates should be taxed but whether the act of dying should trigger a tax is rarely discussed.
Newsday informs us that through industry, intelligence and luck – not to mention sacrifice and good choices – some people amass “fortunes” of various sizes. In their opinion, this means that anyone who accomplishes this is justifiably required to contribute a portion of it to everyone else. Their sole reason is because they should. They even attempt to make this less awful “smart estate planners can avoid much of its sting”. So, passing tax on people who can avoid it actually makes sense to the collective economic wisdom of the editors.

Say a guy builds a business manufacturing widgets. After a while he owns a building, the land it’s on, specialized machinery, support equipment, and employs 100 people paying their salary and benefits. Then he dies. The government says his heirs have the absolute right to continue the business - if they give the government $3,000,000. The value any business is mostly in the plant, equipment, trade name and patents so the heirs don’t have $3,000,000 in cash available. The result is the business closes or is sold to a competitor, jobs are lost and Congress has achieved their aim of insuring that no one gets “richer”. Meanwhile, there is still a demand for widgets. The heirs start another business selling the same widgets but these are imported from China. This time the business has no concrete value and nothing to tax except current income. Unfortunately, there are no US employees either. And people wonder why we lost jobs.

So goes the "logic" of the economic loonies.

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