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View Diary: Warren Buffett's latest op-ed will bring mutters of 'class traitor.' But he doesn't go far enough (117 comments)

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  •  If we want to deal with the inequality in (26+ / 0-)

    wealth, which is even far more marked than the inequality in income, we need steeply progressive inheritance taxes. Inheritance is one place were we certainly can say--you didn't build that.

    •  Hear, hear. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, countwebb, Aunt Pat, TFinSF

      I suggest:

      Over $2.5M = 10%
      Over $10M = 20%
      Over $25M = 30%
      Over $50M = 40%
      Over $100M = 50%

      The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries.

      by Words In Action on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:33:27 PM PST

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      •  In addition I want 90% on any income offshored or (5+ / 0-)

        income made from offshoring U.S. businesses! Current economic condition makes making money off these things almost treasonous. At the very least, unpatriotic.

      •  In fact, inheritance taxes were 50% all the (4+ / 0-)

        way down to the bottom of your list -- and even below that amount -- for many years.

        50% is the minimum for wealthy people, imho.  Leaving $1,000,000 to your heirs is enough.  

        Besides, there are all sorts of trusts and other schemes by which the taxes are avoided - always by the richest, of course.

        50%. Period.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:35:06 PM PST

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      •  How much should someone inherit just for being (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jmcb132oprn, tofumagoo

        born to rich parents? Why should they inherit anything? Heck, their parents already probably provide them with a great education, cultural enrichment, connections, etc.

        I'd start with 100% of everything over $1 million and then, perhaps, bargain down to:

        Over $1M = 50%
        Over $5M = 60%
        Over $20M = 70%
        Over $50M = 80%
        Over $100M = 90%

        •  Why should they inherit anything? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tofumagoo

          We have assumed for may centuries (in Western culture) that there is some right to inherit.  But where would that right come from?  There are certainly some good reasons to allow some wealth to pass on.  The welfare of a surviving spouse or disabled child; the continuity of businesses which provide needed services, products and economic activity, are arguably good reasons.  Would $5 million in allowable inheritance cover all those concerns?  Perhaps there is another schema.  But at some point, there is no good reason to protect the larger inheritances.  Once we decide an amount to be protected, the rest should be taxed at 100%.    

          BTW the estate tax and the gift tax, as they currently exist, are a tax imposed on the transfer of property without consideration.  They are not a death tax or an inheritance tax.  

          •  Good points (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tofumagoo

            But note:

            On firm continuity: the people who work for the firm should inherit the firm, not the idiot son or the crazy niece of the owner.

            On surviving spouse: estate taxes usually don't apply until both spouses have died.

            Disabled child: why should the disabled children of rich parents be treated better than the disabled children of the poor?

            On the other hand, being able to help your children does motivate people to work hard, so passing on some wealth has some valid social benefit. But I think $1 million should be a pretty good incentive.

    •  And taxing inheritance unlike income or investment (6+ / 0-)

      has no downside from the constant Right-wing squealing about "incentives"

      If you tax income you hurt incentives to produce

      If you tax capital gains you hurt incentives to invest

      If you tax inheritance you hurt incentives to... have your relatives die?

      Death needs no incentives to work.

      •  Actually, they have been screaming about this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, blue jersey mom, tofumagoo

        all along:  The Death Tax.  "Why should the government collect a dead person's money?"  etc, etc, etc.

        The inheritance tax is one of the earliest taxes the Founding Fathers supported.  Conservatives are anti-American.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:36:23 PM PST

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        •  Has no one made the counter argument (4+ / 0-)

          that the government is not collecting a dead person's money, but the live inheritor of that money?

          Another argument that the Right always trots out is that this is the tax that causes family farmers to lose their farms.  Seems like an exemption could be written into the inheritance tax "reform" bill that would cap the rate on a family owned and operated farm.  If there is one thing congress knows how to do, it's exempt entities from punitive tax rates.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:00:55 PM PST

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          •  A lot of "family owned and operated farms" are (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Leo in NJ

            worth millions of dollars.  The day when a farmer had a few cows, chickens, pigs and farmed 80 or 160 acres are long gone.  Many remaining "family farms" are huge affairs owned by wealthy people.   The concept of the small family farm we all had in the 1950s is long gone.  

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 10:52:25 PM PST

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            •  Going to have to disagree with you here (3+ / 0-)

              I can drive 30 minutes east of Austin, Texas and be smack in the middle of hundreds of small family farms with maybe a few dozen chickens, a couple cows, a heard of goats, and a ton of guard dogs. These are generally very "poor" people by modern standards but they literally feed and fuel the local sustainable food movement in Austin. They are exactly the types who would, quite literally, "lose the farm" if they weren't exempted out of an inheritance tax.

              •  That is the case around Austin, but it is not the (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tofumagoo

                case, generally, throughout the nation.

                If they are that small - truck garden farms is what we call them - then they shouldn't worry about inheritance taxes on estates over a million dollars, etc.  

                A friend just bought a quarter section of good wheat, corn, soybean farmland in Oklahoma - 160 acres - to farm as absentee landlord.  It cost him around $250,000 and his return is around $36000 per year, net.  He hires everything done.   That's a 14% return.  

                Four times that much land would put him close to the one million dollar mark, and over $100,000 per year in net income, no work on his part.

                Anything over that should have an estate tax.  And, honestly, corporate farms should be prohibited, but that's just me. :-)

                "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                by YucatanMan on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:48:04 AM PST

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                •  I'm with you on that one! (0+ / 0-)

                  Texas is having a small independent farm culture revival right now, but it's having trouble penetrating parts of the state that are home to corporate farms like the south Texas valley. Coincidentally, these are parts of the state that have the most farm workers and the highest poverty levels. The guys I know who own their own small farms make out pretty well for themselves. They don't have much in the shape of liquid assets, but their quality of living is fairly high in regards to how they spend their time and how they live. In contrast, corporate farms exploit the local and migrant workforce while delivering inferior GMO products.

      •  Oh, but they always figure out a way (0+ / 0-)

        They call it the "Death Tax," right?  And go on and on about how it does things like Hurt Family Farmers and Small Businesses, ostensibly because so much of the Family Farm or Family Business gets taxed away by the evil gubmint that they have to sell or liquidate.  At least, I think that's how (they say) it works.

        Remember: actual numbers and facts, like the fact that this would affect some tiny sliver (2%, 5%?) of family farms and businesses -- those things don't actually matter.

        And Democrats are, more often then not, too cowardly to call them out.  We let them dominate the rhetorical landscape, losing both the battle and the war.

    •  The founding fathers were strongly in favor of (9+ / 0-)

      steep inheritance taxes because they'd seen what generationally accumulated wealth had done in Europe.  All the wars and strife caused by various dukes, princes, and so forth.  They spoke and wrote about strong inheritance taxes as being necessary for democracy to work over time.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:33:06 PM PST

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