Life's Certainties: Taxes, Death, Then One More Tax

For the foreseeable future, you are free to die in America without penalty… so long as you aren’t rich.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend the estate tax late last week — indefinitely. In a time when everyone could use an extra dollar — and, in fact, hundreds of billions of dollars are being handed out while trillions more are being printed — the state opted to extend the “death tax,” which was set for a one-year repeal in 2010. Instead of a year of tax leniency, for every dollar beyond $3.5 million that you bestow upon your departure, the government will take 45 cents (should this bill become law).

Why start today’s forecast with this news? We couldn’t think of a more fitting sign of the times… punish those who found success (and already paid their taxes once) and reward the weak (in this case the U.S. government, arguably the greatest spendthrift in history).

Here’s the best part: They’ll spin it so it sounds like Uncle Sam is doing you a favor. “This bill gives our nation’s wealthiest families the ability to know exactly what their obligation to the nation that fostered their wealth will be,” Rep. Jared Polis so eloquently noted. You see, you not only have some kind of “obligation” to give the state nearly half of your life’s work, but by keeping this tax continuous, Rep. Polis will offer that sleep-easy assurance that the estate tax will surely outlive you. What a relief.

Of course, there are myriad ways to get out of it (thus further complicating our overcomplicated tax laws), but the current estate tax is still a huge profit center for the U.S. government.

Estate Tax Revenue