Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Estate Tax: A New Conspiracy Theory
Post by David Held
By CATHERINE RAMPELL
The political fight over the estate tax, the subject of a weekend article in The Wall Street Journal, may soon be re-engaged in Congress.
In 2001, President Bush pushed through a law that gradually decreased the levy on heirs over the course of a decade, until the estate tax finally disappears altogether in 2010. In 2011, though, the tax will rebound to its pre-Bush levels.
This policy quirk has spawned lots of “throw momma from the train” jokes among tax wonks, since potential heirs stand to gain a lot by having their rich relatives die in 2010. But the estate tax law also has implications for the federal budget.
Let’s say Congress, distracted by health care reform, leaves the current estate tax laws untouched. If a rich person dies at 11:59 p.m., Dec. 31, 2010, the government won’t get a dime. But if, through the wonders of modern Medicare-financed medicine, he manages to hang on another minute and instead dies at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2011, the government collects 55 percent of his net estate worth over $1 million.
Hmm. I smell a new job for those “death panels.”
Click here to read on!