This Is A Love Letter To The Estate Tax
Let's talk about the Estate Tax, Wonkers! But first, a word from our friends at School House Rock.
In fact, the founding fathers thought generational accumulation of wealth was a cancer on society. Thomas Paine proposed to level the playing field by taxing large estates and distributing the proceeds among men when they reached age 21. Thomas Jefferson supported an inheritance tax, quoting Adam Smith to support his belief that,
A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural.
But today's Republicans see that the wealthiest 1% of the world's population owns 50% of its total assets and think, "TIME TO GIVE THE RICHEST AMERICANS A HUGE TAX BREAK." So they're beating the drums to repeal the so-called "Death Tax" as part of their tax reform plan. Their argument goes something like this:
- Paris Hilton's great-grandfather started a chain of hotels in 1919.
- The Hilton family fortune is now worth upwards of $4 billion.
- If we only allow Paris Hilton's family to inherit $2.4 billion, then the terrorists win.
My dogs live in this two-story doggy mansion that has air conditioning, heating, designer furniture, and a chandelier. Loves it pic.twitter.com/4dXAf5XPXV
— Paris Hilton (@ParisHilton) August 25, 2017
If there is a clearer argument in favor of an estate tax than Paris Hilton, we're all ears! The tax code should discourage a class of useless aristocrats born on top of an infinite pile of money. At best, they make sex tapes and collect pink Bentleys. At worst, they try to privatize the American educational system.
Like Obama said, YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT.
Estate Tax FAQ
Today's federal estate tax allows individuals to give $5.5 million dollars to their children tax-free. For married couples, the threshold is $11 million. Not many people have $11 million dollars -- the average American's net worth is $68,828. But for the sake of argument...
Let's pretend that Ma'n'Pa Kettle saved their pennies, and when they died in 2016 they had $12 million dollars in the bank. The Kettle kids got $11 million dollars tax-free and paid 40% federal income taxes on the remaining million.
The Tea Party Caucus is GRRRR, SO MAD that the Kettle kids only walk away with $11,600,000. Over here at Wonkette, we are not feelin' it. Eleven million dollars is A LOT of money, which is why only about 5,460 estates will pay federal tax this year. We really cannot get worked up about the 0.2% of Americans who are tragically unable to pass an infinite amount of untaxed money to their children.
But we are not employed at the White House, where the cabinet alone has a net worth of $6 billion. Lots of employees at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will leave estates massive enough to be subject to federal tax. And in a shocking coincidence, those public servants are very hot to axe this terribly unjust levy on
God's own elect America's best job creators.
Oligarch Math Funtimes
Let's just do a little back of the napkin calculation to determine how much these brave patriots at the White House would save if the federal estate tax were eliminated. Asset disclosures have a pretty broad range, so we'll just pick a number somewhere in the middle and calculate how much these guys would save if the estate tax were eliminated. Not that they would ever try to change American tax policy to benefit themselves! But just out of curiosity.
1. Omarosa Manigault
Not everyone in Trumpland is super-rich. With assets of $3.5 million, the White House liaison will pay no federal estate tax. Okay, fair enough.
2. Kellyanne Conway
Kellyanne gets paid a nickel for every lie, so she has managed to amass a tidy fortune. In other news, we are in the wrong business!
3. Steven Mnuchin
We are perfectly willing to believe that Jared and Ivanka work harder than Paris Hilton. But they are still despicable assholes who were born on third base and think they hit a home run. The Republican Party wants to rally the troops to ensure that the Kushner kids inherit $800 million, instead of a paltry $500 million. Seriously! This is what counts as a moral imperative in today's GOP.
5. The Orange Fool, Himself
And while we're on the subject of the kids, let's all shed a tear for Vanky, DJ, Eric, Tiffany and Barron. If Poppy Trump is worth $2 billion (which we doubt), then he'll only be able to leave $1.2 billion to his wife and kids. (If you think Melon is getting anything under that prenup, I got a bridge to sell ya!) And where's the justice there?
No More Kings!
Last week Republican Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said,
You work your whole life to build up a nest egg or a family-owned business or family farm. Then you pass away. ... Uncle Sam can swoop in and take over 40% of everything you've earned over a certain amount. It's just wrong.
To which we say, GO FUCK YOURSELF, KEVIN!
There is no inalienable right to give 100% of what you earned to your children and perpetuate a ruling class forever! Children didn't earn their parents' wealth, and there's nothing unjust in refusing to allow them to reap an unlimited windfall from having been born lucky. It really does take balls to argue that we have to cut food stamps for hungry kids, but it's totally unfair ask children of the aristocracy to give up a share of their unearned inheritance.
Here's Grover Norquist on CNBC explaining that the estate tax is like having a mugger take your wallet.
"When I walk down the street, and a mugger ... doesn't take my wallet, he didn't give me my wallet," Norquist analogized. "This idea when the government fails to steal your money ... and tax it, that it gave it to you is nonsense. It's not a gift."
Except in this analogy, you don't own the wallet BECAUSE YOU ARE DEAD, YOU GREEDY LITTLE TROLL!
So in a hundred years, Grover's great granddaughter can sit on a pile of inherited wallets and tell the starving kids in the street that they need to take some personal responsibility and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Just like dear old Grandpappy!
And that is essentially the entire Republican platform.
We at Wonkette are not subject to the estate tax! Please give us money so we can keep bringing you these splainers!
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.