Policy 105 – Estate Tax

Policy 105

Estate Tax

One Sentence Argument

The new Republican tax code requires working Americans to pay up to 37% of their income in taxes, but it allows the children of millionaires to inherit up to $22,400,000 without paying a single penny in taxes.

What Is the Estate Tax?

The estate tax is a 40% tax on money someone receives as an inheritance when their parents (or someone else) die. That tax only kicks in, however, on anything above a limit of $11.2 million for an individual or $22.4 million for a married couple (double the previous limit before the GOP tax bill).

This means you could inherit $22,400,001 and only pay 40 cents total in estate tax.

A Matter of Fairness

The estate tax isn’t some evil, double-taxation “death tax,” it’s the only tax that ultra-rich heirs will ever pay on the millions and millions of dollars that they’re inheriting (that they did absolutely nothing to earn besides being born into the right family). With every single working American paying taxes, it is absurd to claim that we should let trust fund babies who’ve never worked a day in their life make millions without paying a dime.

Who Pays It

With these limits, the estate tax clearly doesn’t affect anyone but the richest of the rich – this is a tax on millionaires and billionaires. In fact, under the new law, experts estimate that only 1,800 estates per year in the entire country will have to pay any estate tax at all.

The reality of this situation debunks the popular claim that the estate tax is a massive burden on family farms and small businesses. To pay any estate tax at all, you’d have to inherit such a large amount that almost by definition small businesses and family farms aren’t affected. In fact, in 2017 only 50 small businesses or farms in the entire country paid any estate tax at all (and that was with the old, lower exemption limit – that number is almost certainly going to be less now).

By the way, remember the Congresswoman who was trying to become the poster child for the tragic family farm story? Turns out it was all a lie. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) should get her own story straight before she tries to base American public policy on it.

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