The death tax needs to stay dead. I can't believe anyone in their right mind would think that taxing the estate of someone that just died 55% is fair.... but that is exactly what is going to happen starting next year. You die now, no additional taxes... you die January 1st, your estate is taxed. George Steinbrenner is the perfect example as is noted in the story below. As many of you know, the Yankee's owner passed away this last week... had he passed away after the start of the year next year, his estate would of been taxed about $500,000,000. Main reason this extra isn't fair is simply the fact that this money has already been taxed. Taxed when your earned it. Taxed when you invested it and did well. Taxes paid when you buy a new car. Taxes when you buy a new house. There are already plenty of taxes around, we don't need this one. The possibility that a family that has lets say owned a long standing business where the owner has done well could potentially loose the family business because of the amount of taxes they could potentially owe. So yeah, the death tax needs to stay buried.

This is one of Mitch Albom's columns... he is very on point here:

The old expression was, "What would you do if you had six months to live?"

This year, it's, "What would you do if you had six months to die?"

The clock is ticking on free death in America. Last week we saw an amazing example of a good news/sad news scenario.

George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees, died of a heart attack at age 80. But by dying in 2010, his family avoided $500 million in estate taxes that it would have paid if he'd hung on another year.

Why? Because the inheritance tax is in exile this year. The rate is zero. Next year it jumps to 55%. That's right. From zero to 55 at a stroke of midnight. A Maserati doesn't go that fast.

This is simmering into some uncomfortable scenarios. Sure, in Steinbrenner's case you could say, "It was his time." There's still six months to go.

But what if he took ill in December? What if he were on life support at Christmas? Five hundred million dollars might be a compelling motivator ...

You get the drift.

Government gains

Of course, we should never be in this ridiculous scenario. Under President George W. Bush, a law was passed gradually shrinking the estate tax year after year until it reached nothing, a move hailed by everyone except tax-lovers and certain charities.

But in classic government form, the only way the law got through was if it had an expiration date. And guess when? 2010. Die now, or the family gets less.

Crazy. Look, I have said this before. The estate tax is blatantly unfair and, in my mind, indefensible. I have heard all the arguments for it. They go like this:

1. If you allow wealth to stay with the wealthy, you're perpetuating a class system.

Nonsense. This isn't England in the 1500s. You can get rich many ways in this country. Besides, you're not giving your wealth to the poor with estate taxes; you're giving it to the government. What class are we perpetuating there? Aren't your loved ones more entitled to your life's savings than Congress?

2. If you don't force people to bequeath money to charities, charities will go out of business.

First of all, charity should come from the heart. And if charitable giving is directed by government, why did President Barack Obama propose a limit on deductions the wealthy can get for giving? Wasn't he motivating them in the wrong direction?

Besides -- and this is most important -- the money you want to leave your kids has most likely been taxed before. When you earned it, you paid tax on it. If you put it in an investment and cashed that investment, you paid tax on the growth.

Most of your wealth, by the time you're ready to leave it, has been spooned into by federal, state, city and local taxes. Your house, you've paid taxes on year after year. Your car, you paid taxes on when you purchased it.

Yes, there is currently a good-size deductible before you pay. But why should your dying ever be a windfall for politicians? Wouldn't you rather your children have that?

Even Sweden, a country that has as many taxes as it does blondes, did away with its inheritance tax. Australia doesn't have one. Neither does Switzerland.

I don't see them going out of business.

An uncomfortable truth

All this is bad enough. But with 2010 halfway gone, we've created an unimaginable dilemma. Wealthy people are better off dying this December than next January. And their heirs are WAY better off.

Were this a "Saturday Night Live" skit, you'd have Grandma upstairs, crying for her pills, and the kids on a couch watching TV and yelling "Yeah, in a minute!"

It's insane that death should be free one day and cost you half your estate the next. But that's where we're at.

If we had any sense, we'd keep the law the way it is. You notice it hasn't stopped the current administration from planned tax increases. There will be no shortage of new ways to give to the government.

The sad part is, Obama doesn't even have to take the heat on this. He just sits there, lets the law expire and -- boom! We're back to 55%.

The Steinbrenner family, in the midst of their grief, have to actually feel lucky. That's weird. And the closer we get to Dec. 31, the weirder this is going to get.

Contact MITCH ALBOM: 313-223-4581 or Catch "The Mitch Albom Show" 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).

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We're going to see a lot of life support cords pulled before Dec. 31.
Makes me think of the scene in Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby was in the hospital and his wife tells the Dr to pull the plug... although the Dr keeps telling her that he is sleeping and that he's going to be fine... might be a few people with money to loose that might pull that plug early
This is a prime example, in addition to so many others now, that the Tea Party has been created and is very popular with the masses. To those naysayers, I just ask you to attend one party, with an open and unbiased mindset, and determine if these people are right or wrong. I believe it was Ronald Reagan years ago that put the biggest bite on reducing or eliminating the inheritance tax. And with good reason, as we witness it's undoing now.
I courteously disagree with that notion of discriminating against a third party on the ticket Al. In fact, it's just what the public needs and is about ready for. It will take some serious work and changing of minds, but it's there for the effort. If about 75% of the R's and 40% of the D's were to leave their old party affiliations in disgust and anger about all the negative and devisive tactics and squandering of time and money on capitol hill for a new energized effective Independent party that wants to go forward and put this nation's people and best interests first with integrity and hard work, it could work. The two major party's now are a joke and burden on the taxpayers and nations future. Our best interests lie in getting people back to grass roots politics and thinking, not the same old failed politics we witness now everyday. JMO
I agree with you, Al. I think a nascent Tea Party should ally itself with the Republican Party and form a coalition promoting the general values they have in common. They will likely find enough moderates and libertarian-leaning liberals to win elections with such a platform, much like Reagan did in 1980, and the CWA did in 1994.
Government greed is alive and well at all levels. It's beyond time to deal with this monstrous beast. If this stands uncorrected, it should indeed be interesting to see the death statistics towards the end of the year.


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