Thursday, July 08, 2010

Inherited Wealth Shouldn't get a Free Pass on Taxes

From LA

Dan Duncan is reportedly the first billionaire to die during the one year since 1916 in which there is no estate tax in place. And guess what…his heirs have hit the tax-free jackpot!

Duncan is the poster child for opponents of the estate tax. Described by the New York Times as a "soft-spoken farm boy who started with $10,000 and two propane trucks," he grew his business until he became the 74th wealthiest person in the world.

With an estimated net worth of $9 billion, Duncan embodies the rags-to-riches story that Americans love. Even his choice of bequests — leaving his money to his family and his favorite charities — makes him seem "just like us." Who better to enjoy Congress' largesse?

However appealing, this story fails to capture the nature of the estate tax, including the people who benefit and are harmed by its repeal.

The one person who absolutely cannot benefit is Dan Duncan himself. When Duncan died, he was separated from all his property by a force even more powerful than the federal government.

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