Letter: Keep the federal estate tax in place
Editor’s note: The writer sent this letter to his members of Congress.
This is to protest the new tax proposal presented by President Trump. It is far too generous to the richest 1 percent. It would also increase the federal debt even more rapidly.
First, the top tax bracket should not be lowered from the current 39.6 percent. In the past, it has been as high as 91 percent at the time of World War II, with no apparent harm to individuals or the economy.
Second, I protest the proposed elimination of the federal estate tax. For 2016, a married couple could have given $10.9 million to heirs and paid no federal estate or gift tax. The remaining estate would have been taxed at a maximum of 40 percent. Of course, many individuals and families avoided much of these taxes by setting up trusts, foundations, etc.
This tax is paid almost entirely by those people who are the wealthiest 1 percent of our citizens. This group owns an estimated 35 to 40 percent of the wealth held by individuals and families. Eliminating the estate tax would further increase the wealth of such people, aggravating wealth inequity in the United States.
Even with the estate tax, wealthy families have been able to pass on much of their wealth to their descendants, generation after generation, creating a kind of royalty by inheritance. Eliminating the estate tax would accelerate this process.
Finally, it should be obvious that the growth of our national debt is out of control. The above items, plus others under consideration, would certainly increase the rate of growth of our national debt.
— Richard W. Soderberg