Death, Taxes, and Lies: Know the Facts on the Estate Tax


US Representatives from Texas, and throughout the Union, have declared all-out war on the federal estate tax, which they pejoratively label as the "death tax". Don't be decieved by the lies and deception, let's look at the facts and see who really stands to lose and gain from its repeal as approved by the House of Representatives last week.

The Republican war on the estate tax is nothing new really, but only recently has it become such a top priority to the point of passing a house of congress. According to their clames, the estate tax harms small businesses and takes away the hard earned money of parents who would have wanted it to go to their children. They share what are supposed to be heart-wrenching stories of huge land estates being seized by the state for value assessment and resale, despite such stories being completely outside the real lives of the vast majority of the population who either is without property or only owns the small plot on which their house is built, which more often is not directly owned either.

Let's be clear: no, your financial and property assets are not immediately subject to taxation after your death. The estate tax only becomes effective if your combined assets value over five million dollars. This means that fewer than one percent of all inherited estates in the United States are ever subject to this tax. And that amount only applies for one person's estate. There are no taxes subjected to estates transfered between spouses, and estates left by a married couple are not subject to an estate tax unless it amounts to over ten million dollars. To say that it's repeal only benefit's the richest 1% is still too generous because, out of the 2.6 million deaths expected to occur in America this year, only 5,400 will be effected by the estate tax, which means only the richest 0.2% of society have to pay it.

So why the lies? While the vast majority (safe to say nearly all) of Americans are in no way subject to the estate tax, a sizable constituency of the Republican Party's financiers are. If Charles or David Koch, the two infamous multi-billionare oil heir brothers and fascist ideologues, were to die tomorrow (should we be so lucky), the remaining assets inherited would be taxed at 40%. That would be billions of dollars lost for the Koch family and billions gained for the American public. It isn't just the Koch family, it's also the Waltons, the Kardashians, the whole of the modern American aristocracy can at least pay it back to the public in this way when they are dead. But if the Republicans get their way, the estate tax could be a thing of the past, along with the American middle class and all the other remaining vestiges of the progressive era and semi-socialist past.

The Republican Party claims to be about deficit reduction and balanced budgets. However, this and most of its policies lead to the opposite results. Repeal of the estate tax is proposed without any compensation for the lost revenue and is turned into deficit, which will create a convenient excuse for further cutting funding to education and nutrition programs while billionares send their children to elitist private academies assured that they will be left with all the money they could ever need and all the political power they need to keep it that way.

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