Monday, June 27, 2005

The Paris Hilton Tax Cut

On June 6th I published a Modern America article titled, "Supply Side Economics." In it I discussed President Bush's federal income tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy. Now I have some things to say about the Estate Tax.

You might not even recognize it by its true name, since Republicans refer to it as the Death Tax. This is a familiar tactic, replacing the name of something with one of their misleading slogans, which they repeat endlessly. The idea you're supposed to get here is, you pay taxes on everything you earn throughout your life, and then you have to pay taxes on it again when you die and leave it to your heirs, due to The Evil Death Tax.

This is a silly distortion. You don't pay taxes after you're dead. You don't do anything in this world after you're dead. When your survivors receive an inheritance from your estate, it is they who pay the taxes, because this is income.

Still, it would seem fair if we could leave a little something tax-free for our children when we pass on - maybe the family home or farm, or some cash to help them put our grandchildren through college. That's why the Estate Tax provides for a $1 million exemption from taxation. I say that's plenty, but there are reasonable people who believe this exemption should be raised some - say, to $2 million.

But in 2001, Bush and his Republican Congress passed a bill to phase out the Estate Tax, with total elimination scheduled for 2010. The bill has a sunset clause, so the tax would revert to its pre-2001 state in 2011 (up to $1M exemption) if no more legislation is passed. But Paris Hilton needn't worry. Republicans are working right now to make Estate Tax elimination permanent, so that she and others like her can inherit vast fortunes without paying any taxes.

Thus, with yet another tax break for the rich, it will be even easier for the wealthy elite to perpetuate their dynasties. This is all part of Dubya's campaign to cut taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations, while gutting our social programs.

Soon 10,000 West Virginia veterans will face increased medical costs, because the Bush administration has not adequately funded the Veterans' Administration. Wonder what happened to the 'support our troops' slogan?

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