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Invisiblez@z.com
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Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 2,876
Loc: ATL
Repeal the Grave Robber Tax
    #4057152 - 04/15/05 01:45 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Because some people are really wealthy doesn't mean they are well endowed with common sense. Last week a handful of the richest people on the planet, including George Soros, Warren Buffett and Paul Newman, urged Congress not to end the death tax. More than 100 other rich people took out an ad this past weekend in The New York Times essentially saying, "Please tax us!" Estate tax advocates in Washington are exulting that even the nation's yacht-owners don't want this tax repealed.

The truth is that these ultra-rich Americans aren't being as selfless as it may seem. Most billionaire families long ago engaged in careful estate tax planning by, for example, depositing their fortunes into family foundations or by creating generation skipping-trusts -- to avoid having the long arm of the IRS reach into their graves for a dime.

Let's take the example of George Soros. According to research by Brett Fromson of TheStreet.com, few Americans have been so successful at gaming our tax system as the billionaire financier. Many of Soros' investments are "off-shore" hedge funds often exempt from U.S. taxation. "Soros can afford to support high inheritance taxes," writes Fromson, "given the enormous personal income tax advantage he enjoys." I have no objection to Americans engaging in legal tax avoidance. It's smart personal finance. But Soros shouldn't turn around and hypocritically urge other people to pay more taxes when he finds so many clever ways to avoid U.S. taxes himself.

The dirty little secret of the death tax is that the people clobbered by it are not billionaires. More often they are ordinary Americans with medium sized estates -- the millionaire next door. I am talking about ranchers, farmers and self-starter business owners. They are the risk-takers in our society who have spent a lifetime pouring sweat equity into their family-owned firms. They become anguished and enraged when they discover that their reward for a life of virtue is a confiscatory death tax that will rob their grave. Every year thousands of heirs are forced to sell the family farm or business to pay estate taxes. It's unjust given that this tax is imposed on dollars already taxed when the income was earned during the deceased's lifetime.

Now, Warren Buffett worries that without a death tax America will become a society of pampered third- and fourth-generation inheritors hoarding their family fortunes without working an honest day or contributing to society their whole lives. (The image of Ted Kennedy jumps to mind.) But as Professor Edward McCaffery of the University of Southern California Law School argues, "If breaking up large concentrations of wealth is the intention of the death tax, then it is a miserable failure." The Kennedys and Rockefellers still have massive family fortunes despite the estate tax.

The death tax rewards the life of lavish and unproductive consumption it is intended to discourage. This tax says to the elderly: Live high on the hog. Wrap yourself in material comfort. Eat, drink, be merry. You can't take it with you, and you can't leave most of it to your kids. Your goal is to die broke -- the ultimate form of tax avoidance. Meanwhile the frugal men and women who scrimp and save and build a legacy to leave to their children are hit by a tax that allows the IRS to snatch more than half. Through the death tax, we reward vice and punish virtue.

One last argument used by the billionaires is that eliminating the death tax will cause private charities to suffer. But volumes of evidence show that charitable giving is more influenced by the amount of economic growth than the value of charitable tax deductions. In the 1980s, the value of charitable deductions fell by almost half, but charitable giving soared. It' s insulting to say that Americans give to their churches or the Red Cross or the Salvation Army because they want a tax break.

Although we consider ourselves the freest nation on earth, we have the second highest death tax in the industrialized world -- higher than in the socialist bastions of Sweden and France. Perhaps that's why Hillary Clinton, campaigning for the Senate last fall, said, "You ought to be able to leave your land and the bulk of your fortunes to your children and not the government." Three out of four Americans agree with her.

http://www.cato.org/dailys/02-22-01.html


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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: z@z.com]
    #4057799 - 04/15/05 07:48 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

How do you suggest we bring about the needed reduction in centralization of wealth/power in the world/America..


Are you ready to admit that we do have a problem?


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Invisibleshroomydan
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #4057956 - 04/15/05 09:50 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

The estate tax is necessary for a free nation to remain free. Without it wealth and land would accumulate into the hands a few oligarchs who would then proceed to oppress everyone else.

I used to be against the estate tax, and the graduated income tax, and capital gains tax... Then I studied some history in college and learned about the horrors caused by unchecked capitalism during the industrial revolution, the oppression of the poor which sparked the French Revolution, and the communist backlash which brought its own set of horrors.

The path to peace and freedom is the middle way between capitalism and socialism. The estate tax embraces this middle way.


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Offlinecb9fl
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: shroomydan]
    #4058246 - 04/15/05 12:04 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Without it wealth and land would accumulate into the hands a few oligarchs who would then proceed to oppress everyone else.

LVT?


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It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. -Andre Gide

"Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives."


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Invisiblez@z.com
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: shroomydan]
    #4058657 - 04/15/05 01:49 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

shroomydan said:
The estate tax is necessary for a free nation to remain free. Without it wealth and land would accumulate into the hands a few oligarchs who would then proceed to oppress everyone else.



From the Article:
Quote:

The truth is that these ultra-rich Americans aren't being as selfless as it may seem. Most billionaire families long ago engaged in careful estate tax planning by, for example, depositing their fortunes into family foundations or by creating generation skipping-trusts -- to avoid having the long arm of the IRS reach into their graves for a dime.




Quote:

The dirty little secret of the death tax is that the people clobbered by it are not billionaires. More often they are ordinary Americans with medium sized estates -- the millionaire next door. I am talking about ranchers, farmers and self-starter business owners. They are the risk-takers in our society who have spent a lifetime pouring sweat equity into their family-owned firms.



We lost my grandfather's farm thanks to the estate tax and he was not a rich man.

Quote:

But as Professor Edward McCaffery of the University of Southern California Law School argues, "If breaking up large concentrations of wealth is the intention of the death tax, then it is a miserable failure." The Kennedys and Rockefellers still have massive family fortunes despite the estate tax.




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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: z@z.com]
    #4059029 - 04/15/05 03:33 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

z@z.com said:
We lost my grandfather's farm thanks to the estate tax and he was not a rich man.




You didn't lose it you sold it. You exchanged one form of value for another. You could have kept it as a farm if you were willing and able to come up with the cash to pay the estate taxes. If it was lien free you could have mortgaged it. If it wasn't, he didn't really own it to the extent that it was liened.

I fully agree that the current tax code is a horror that protects people who can afford to spend half a million dollars or more a year on tax advisors. Run of the mill millionaires can't do anywhere near what the really, truly rich can. My income tax code would have only one class of deduction, for housing costs (which includes property and school taxes). We should stop screwing renters and allow them to deduct their rent. I'm only keeping that one because of the catastrophic effect it would have on housing prices if it were eliminated. After that, nothing. No child credit either. Children suck and are parasites. They should be discouraged. A reasonable estate tax of say 10% on everyone would probably be in order. Consumption taxes as necessary.


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Invisiblez@z.com
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: zappaisgod]
    #4059073 - 04/15/05 03:49 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

zappaisgod said:
You didn't lose it you sold it. You exchanged one form of value for another. You could have kept it as a farm if you were willing and able to come up with the cash to pay the estate taxes. If it was lien free you could have mortgaged it. If it wasn't, he didn't really own it to the extent that it was liened.




Yes we did sell it (and the government was even kind enough to let us keep about half the money), but my uncle wanted to keep it. He wasn't sure if he would be able to make the payments on it if we mortgaged it. The point is that it had already been purchased and taxed as well. Why can a person not give what they own and already payed taxes on to their heirs?


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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: z@z.com]
    #4059203 - 04/15/05 04:17 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

I agree that 50% is too much. Like I said 10% is probably about fair. If the farm would not be profitable with a 50% mortgage then maybe it and your uncle shouldn't be in the farming business. Lot's of, if not most, businesses pay debt service on 50% of their start up expenditures.


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: zappaisgod]
    #4059659 - 04/15/05 06:15 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

You should be allowed to deduct all nessisary expenses, including basic food, shelter, transportation, utilities, etc...


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OfflineJesusChrist
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #4062237 - 04/16/05 01:24 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

I like the point about trusts and off shore accounts. The wealthy don't pay nearly as many taxes as people think. They find ways to escape them.

Breaking up family businesses has long been a negative consequence of the death tax. They tax you your whole freaking life. You would think that they would already have their pound of flesh.

We tend to tax income and not wealth. The death tax hits wealth, but the truely wealthy escape it. The people we really penalize are the most productive people in society. Old money remains old money because they find ways around the system. If I ever make it big I am going to move a substantial portion of my assets off shore.


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: JesusChrist]
    #4062291 - 04/16/05 01:57 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Yet supposedly the richest 10% pay 90% of the taxes, at least I think that's how it was on federal taxes.

State and local may vary.


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OfflineTao
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: z@z.com]
    #4071606 - 04/19/05 07:00 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

taxes are necessary right? we have to have some sort of taxes. who better to tax than dead rich people? i for one can't think of a better group to tax.


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OfflineJesusChrist
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Tao]
    #4071653 - 04/19/05 08:29 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Tao said:
taxes are necessary right? we have to have some sort of taxes. who better to tax than dead rich people? i for one can't think of a better group to tax.




You can only tax so many dead people. That is the only drawback. We can't reach back in time and tax the dead from centuries past, only the people who have recently died.

Now the unborn, that is a different story altogether. We have been successfull in taxing gernerations to come with our current consumption patterns. That is quite a nifty trick.


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Tao]
    #4071929 - 04/19/05 11:20 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Tao said:
taxes are necessary right? we have to have some sort of taxes. who better to tax than dead rich people? i for one can't think of a better group to tax.



I would say that if they earned all their wealth legitimately, then they shouldn't be taxed. But because we don't have an LVT(land value tax) to tax all the unearned wealth from land rent, we might as well keep those taxes which take up a part of it. Sales taxes basically take up none of it.


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Tao]
    #4073422 - 04/19/05 06:19 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Interviewer: Why do you rob banks?

John Dillinger: Because that's where the money is.

Note the verb "rob"


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Invisiblez@z.com
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Tao]
    #4074838 - 04/19/05 11:56 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Tao said:
taxes are necessary right? we have to have some sort of taxes. who better to tax than dead rich people? i for one can't think of a better group to tax.



The wealth they have has already been taxed.


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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: z@z.com]
    #4075912 - 04/20/05 07:54 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

I think consumption tax is the most logical kind of tax.


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #4075937 - 04/20/05 08:18 AM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Baby_Hitler said:
I think consumption tax is the most logical kind of tax.



I think you're wrong. Consumption taxes fall most heavily on those who can least afford them. They make the cost of living more expensive for those who have it hardest already. Some may argue that it's good because it cuts down on consumption, but they make the mistake of assuming that all consumption is bad. If they only had a consumption tax on harmful goods(green tax shift), then I might be more sympathetic, but even this is not the best solution.


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: z@z.com]
    #4076721 - 04/20/05 01:33 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

The tax would be implemented top-down, so that the taxes would be payed by the companies who were consuming resources to produce products.

Also the tax would be proportionate to whatever impact consuming those resources had.

If someone were turning natural disease carrying mosquitoes into fuel or something in a way that reduced disease, why would they have to pay a tax on consuming a "resource" that was previously not a resource, but a burden?


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Repeal the Grave Robber Tax [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #4076799 - 04/20/05 01:48 PM (11 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Baby_Hitler said:
The tax would be implemented top-down, so that the taxes would be payed by the companies who were consuming resources to produce products.



This could be achieved more easily with a resource extraction tax.

Quote:

Also the tax would be proportionate to whatever impact consuming those resources had.



Extraction taxes + Pollution taxes would accomplish pretty much the same thing.

Quote:

If someone were turning natural disease carrying mosquitoes into fuel or something in a way that reduced disease, why would they have to pay a tax on consuming a "resource" that was previously not a resource, but a burden?



Resource extraction taxes only apply to resources taken from the ground, therefore that question is irrelevant.


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