Sen. Bernie Sanders is introducing legislation today that would return the inheritance tax to the levels we had before billionaires started writing all of America's tax laws. It's just the latest in a string of very encouraging efforts aimed at bringing a little bit of sanity back to tax policy that has favored the very richest Americans since the Reagan administration. And if all of them -- like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's top marginal income tax rate of 70 percent and Elizabeth Warren's Eat The Rich wealth tax -- the super rich would still be obscenely wealthy but would complain they're being taxed away to skin and Rolexes. We say good on Bernie, and let's see what this sucker would accomplish to nudge wealth inequality back toward sanity.


Sanders's bill, the "For the 99.8% Act," would tax the estates of the 0.2 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million, while the rest of the country "would not see their taxes go up by one penny under this plan," according to aides to the Vermont senator [...]

Sanders's plan would restore the 77 percent top estate tax rate that was in place in the U.S. from 1941 to 1976, tax estates worth more than $3.5 million, and create several new estate tax brackets, including a 55 percent rate on estates worth more than $50 million.

The Sanders proposal would reverse decades of Republican efforts to undo the estate tax, including the 2017 Big Fat Tax Cut for Rich Fuckwads, which doubled the size of estates exempted from the tax. Until 2017, the estate tax applied only to estates of over $5.5 million ($11 million for couples); the 2017 tax cut ensured that the rich can pass on up to $11 million ($22 million for couples) without a cent being taken in taxes. Republicans wanted to abolish the estate tax altogether, but "fiscal restraint" rules passed by previous Republican Congresses wouldn't allow them to blow up the deficit that much.

As it happens, Sanders is bringing his bill the very week that Republicans released a plan to eliminate the estate tax altogether, because America needs a hereditary aristocracy.

Sanders said this was all just a bit nuts:

It is literally beyond belief that the Republican leadership wants to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 0.2 percent of our population. . . . This is not only insane, it tells us the degree to which the billionaire class controls the Republican Party

Even with its return to a pre-Reagan estate tax structure, the Sanders bill wouldn't be the bane of small businesses and family farms Republicans like to scaremonger over. It would only apply to the top two-tenths of a percent of American families, and would reintroduce progressive rates based on the size of the estate:

Sanders's plan would reverse the decades-long decline in estate taxes. It would levy a 45 percent estate tax on those with $3.5 million to $10 million; a 50 percent tax on those with $10 million to $50 million; a 55 percent tax on those with $50 million to $1 billion; and a 77 percent tax on those with more than $1 billion.

The legislation also aims to crack down on loopholes that allow fortunes to be passed down with lower taxes, including by preventing wealthy families from avoiding certain taxes through annuity trusts.

Mind you, it would simply make life unbearable for dead billionaires. The plan would raise some $2.2 trillion in revenue from America's 588 billionaires, although the money wouldn't all come in at once, since we'd have to wait for the super-rich to kick off. No single-year windfall unless the billionaires all plan to die at once. Even so, with just regular multimillionaires dropping dead -- peacefully and of natural causes, commenters! -- the plan would bring in $315 billion over the next decade.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told the Washington Post all these proposals to raise taxes on the super-wealthy may indicate Republicans can no longer get much mileage out of scaring people over tax increases. After that huge tax blowout in 2017, people seem to have finally noticed the riches just aren't tricking down on them:

"A lot of the conventional wisdom says, 'Stay away from tax increases,' but it's actually quite popular," Lake said.

Part of what's changing is that fewer Americans now fear that they will be targeted by taxes designed to hit the ultrawealthy, Lake said. "Even in the last six months, you're seeing a shift," she said.

WaPo also notes that before Republicans began taking an ax to estate taxes (and thank you very much Frank Luntz for coining the phrase "death tax") in the 1970s and '80s, taxes on inheritance used to account for five percent of annual federal revenue. But now, even though more and more wealth is concentrated at the top, estate taxes only make up one percent of the federal budget.

Gosh, just think -- under the current law, if Jeff Bezos dropped dead today, possibly after his ex gave him the evil eye, the taxes on his fortune would come to $52 billion under the generous Republican tax cut law. If the GOP had its way with its new proposal, that would be zero. If Sanders's bill took us back to the estate tax rates that somehow didn't prevent the US from huge growth in the 1950s, the Bezos estate would be subject to $101 billion -- but then, that assumes he won't lose a huge chunk of his $137 billion net worth in the divorce, poor guy.

In conclusion, fuck the rich and take their money, the end.

PS: Despite the presence of the words "Bernie Sanders," NO COMMENT-FIGHTING.

[WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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