Romney: Let's get rid of estate taxes because dodging them is too much work and too pricey

Here is the source I’m basing this on – a Bloomberg story about one method Romney and other wealthy people avoid gift and estate taxes. It’s based on some old information, though still relevant in light of the controversy over Mitt’s taxes. Also, I hadn’t seen the quote before that pissed me off enough to write a thread about it.

According to the story, Romney’s campaign put out a paper last year that said Federal estate taxes "… creates a series of perverse incentives that encourages the most complicated and convoluted tax-avoidance schemes at tremendous cost to all involved.” Is there any other way to parse this? I read it as – “these taxes are hard to avoid without hiring a battery of attorneys and accountants.”

But worth it, apparently – so the lawyers and accountants cost less than the money he would pay in taxes. So he comes out ahead anyway.

It’s not enough for Mitt. Just think how much MORE money he would have if he didn’t have to pay all the tax pros because there was no tax to dodge.

Death taxes are reprehensible for lots of reasons, but yes, this is one of them. They are avoidable for those savvy enough to hire lawyers and accountants to dodge them. They basically end up as a special tax for the unprepared.

Sadly, even among those with money, many seniors lack the ability to prepare their estates to avoid the taxes. They suffer from dementia, lack family to help them, or don’t trust lawyers and accountants.

This isn’t the best reason to get rid of the death tax, but it’s good enough.

I briefly worked for a bank in their insurance trust fund department.
The rich have always known about Crummey Trusts - a nice way to squirrel away funds for family members that is essentially tax free. Yes, there are annual limits to how much you can invest, but over time it adds up really, really fast.

If you have an estate large enough to pay federal estate taxes, you almost certainly already have a lawyer, because you are a millionaire. The first million dollars of your estate is exempt from the estate tax.

There may be good reasons to eliminate the estate tax, which can be talked about in some other thread.

But no, this stated reason is in NO WAY good enough – Let’s eliminate a tax to save millionaires the time and expense of avoinding it. Seriously, you believe that’s a sufficient reason?

Is that a good enough reason to eliminate income tax? How about property tax?


Stop bringing your stupid facts into this! You are ruining Debaser’s entire point. Don’t you feel bad now?

When you use the phrase “death tax” I can’t take you seriously. It isn’t paid by the dead, it’s paid by the living who get a windfall.

Anyway, Romney makes a better case for closing the loopholes than he does for eliminating the estate tax. Give each heir say a million dollar exception but close all the dodges.

The problem is that unlike many schemes to avoid other taxes, most of the ways people avoid estate taxes can’t really be closed. What it comes down to is giving away your wealth before you die and doing it in a way that doesn’t incur other taxes along the way. How do you stop that entirely? $0 gift tax exclusion?

I don`t know much about people with hundreds of millions of dollars. Maybe the ultra rich use schemes and loopholes that could be closed, but for people with several million it’s just not that hard with planning.

Whenever estate taxes come up I think back to Al Franken’s joke, that the Estate Tax is reprehensible because it places a terrible burden on society *most *productive members, the children of the extremely wealthy.

Good point. Of course, we’re getting SOME revenue from estate taxes, so it isn’t like everybody is able to avoid it altogether. And the revenue is non-trivial, so I don’t think Mitt makes much of a case to eliminate it.

They are also the most vulnerable… they have so much more that can be taken from them by … smarter people. That’s one reason smart people don’t waste a whole lot of time stealing from the poor.

It is paid from the estate of the dead, based on their accumulation of wealth. The income and wealth of the heirs are not relevant.

So it kind of is being paid “by the dead.”

Mitt doesn’t make the case to eliminate it, no.

But “we’re getting some revenue” isn’t a case to retain it, either.

Fine. We can stay narrow in scope.

No. That’s not what I said. Read my post again. If you need me to restate it let me know, but try and respond to what I actually said.

It would be if property taxes were easily avoidable and only a few senile people were actually affected by them.

The unfairness and the stupidity of the death tax is that anyone who wants to can avoid it, leaving only some that are unprepared to pay.

This gets right to the heart of the matter with death taxes. You consider it a windfall. I consider it the most basic of our human rights to pass along what we create to our children. What’s the point of building a business or a farm or building or accumulating anything of value if it just gets snatched away from you when you die and your heirs need to start over from scratch.

It’s like suggesting we tear up the interstate highway system since most of us weren’t alive when it was built so we didn’t properly earn it.

You said it was a “good enough” reason. Good enough = sufficient.

Have I misstated you? We disagree. I don’t believe that particular reason is sufficient to avoid any tax whatsoever.

The difference is: The highway system is a COMMON GOOD!

What’s the point in buying a summer home if you’re only going to have to pay property taxes to the locality every year?

What’s the point in investing in the stock market if you’re only going to give the government some of your gains it when you sell?

What’s the point in holding down a job if you can’t keep every penny of it for yourself?

How does your example sound any less fair than mine do? Why is taxation suddenly unfair when it’s being paid by the heirs of extremely wealthy people?

Really? This actually happens? I was not aware that the estate tax was 100% of “anything of value” you wanted to pass onto your heirs. I was not aware that the estate tax meant that your heirs will need to “start over from scratch.” As soon as you show me a cite for this, I will certainly change my mind.

More than life, liberty, and the purfuit of happineff, or anything else? Really? BTW, you don’t have any rights after you’re dead anyway.

The tax is on windfall income, as you certainly know. Income being received by people who did nothing to earn it. And whose expectations of receiving it, along with the fact of actually receiving it, serve only to give them a sense of entitlement and arrogance to go with induced laziness. Why the hell would it be a basic human right to make your offspring into useless, lazy little shits? Why the hell would you want to do that? Isn’t a mere million enough to cause that to happen as it is?

Give it all to charity. Let your kids actually *learn *what the Republicans love to preach to others about the value of hard work and acceptance of personal responsibility. O is that sermon only for people you aren’t related to?

There are exactly zero cases of that happening out here in the real world. And the GOP “death tax” zealots have tried to find one, oh, how they’ve tried. So you might want to reconsider that statement.

That is so far from reality one begins to question your desire to discuss this in good faith.

Yes, “good enough” = “sufficient”. The part where you mischaracterize both my and Romney’s position is stating the reason as “saving millionaires the time and expense of avoiding it.”

This is a laughable strawman, and I find it hard to imagine that you can’t see that.

As I stated in my first post to the thread, the one reason alone that it’s worth eliminating the death tax is “They are avoidable for those savvy enough to hire lawyers and accountants to dodge them. They basically end up as a special tax for the unprepared.”

It’s the unfairness, and general stupidity of a tax that most people avoid is what I’m claiming is enough of a reason to cancel it.

As to Romney, here is his full position on the issue…

Romney Plan