Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Wants To Seize 77% of Dead Billionaires' Estates

The estate tax is a form of double taxation.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) today introduced a bill that would greatly expand the estate tax, allowing the federal government to take up to 77 percent of a billionaire's net worth after they die.

The avowed democratic socialist and possible 2020 presidential candidate is calling his bill the "For the 99.8% Act." A summary of the legislation claims that "99.8 percent of Americans would not see their taxes go up by one penny under this plan."

Sanders introduced his bill three days after more than two dozen Senate Republicans proposed eliminating the estate tax altogether.

"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the three richest Americans own more wealth than 160 million Americans, it is literally beyond belief that the Republican leadership wants to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 0.2 percent," Sanders said in a press release. "Our bill does what the American people want by substantially increasing the estate tax on the wealthiest families in this country and dramatically reducing wealth inequality. From a moral, economic, and political perspective our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little."

Sanders' plan would represent a significant overhaul of the way the government determines how much of a person's estate to take before the remainder can be transferred to surviving parties. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump in late 2017, the estate tax applies to those passing down more than $11.2 million, according to Tax Policy Center. The estate tax rate for all sums above that amount is a flat 40 percent.

Under Sanders' proposal, the estate tax would be progressive and apply to estates worth more than $3.5 million. The government would take 45 percent of estates worth between $3.5 million and $10 million, 50 percent of estates worth between $10 million and $50 million, 55 percent of estates worth between $50 million and $1 billion, and 77 percent of estates worth more than $1 billion.

According to the legislation's summary, the bill would also end "tax breaks for dynasty trusts," which allow some wealthy families to avoid paying estate and gift taxes by making a one-time transfer into a long-term trust fund.

Sanders' press release claims the bill would generate $2.2 trillion in revenue from the country's billionaires. Presumably, that amount would only be reached after each of the nation's 588 billionaires have passed away. Under current law, about 1,700 families are expected to be affected by the estate tax on a yearly basis, the Tax Policy Center's Howard Gleckman told the Washington Post.

Sanders is not the only progressive politician to call for a significant tax increase on the wealthy in recent days. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), who is exploring a White House run in 2020, has suggested a 2 percent annual tax on Americans worth more than $50 million. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), meanwhile, has proposed a marginal tax rate of up to 70 percent on people who make more than $10 million per year.

Sanders' plan has very little chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Senate, but it's a bad idea regardless of viability. As Reason TV contributor John Stossel pointed out in August, estate taxes are a form of double taxation, since the federal government is taxing money that has already been taxed. Estate taxes can also have a negative ecological impact. As a 2016 Reason Foundation study noted, many wealthy Americans are worth a lot because they own land. Forcing their heirs to pay an estate tax "leads to land being subdivided, sold and converted to less ecologically beneficial uses."

Bonus link: For more on "Bernie's Bad Ideas," read Reason's Matt Welch's piece from the May 2016 issue.

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  1. The Democrats are racing to see how much money they can take from the evil billionaires. Whoever finds a way to extract the most wins the nomination.

    1. In theory, of course. On a par with Darth Vader theories, or Snow White theories, or Gollum’s theories.

      1. I wasn’t aware Gollum was a theoretician.

        1. He had …. odd …. theories of ownership.

          1. I think we can all agree, Bilbo was a scoundrel and a thief. Simply taking possession of Gollum’s property did not make it his. The ring has long ago been a piece of lost salvage when Gollum found it and took possession. He was still alive when that half-man Bilbo walked off with it.

            1. We are forgetting that the ring has agency of its own. It chose to leave Gollum in the hopes of making its way back to its true master

            2. The ring has long ago been a piece of lost salvage when Gollum found it and took possession.

              Gollum didn’t find it. His friend Deagol found it, after which Gollum killed him and stole the ring for himself.

              1. Eh. When a theft happens long enough in the past, we tend to overlook it.

            3. that half-man

              I’m not a big stickler for equality and social justice, but that’s pretty racist.

    2. But, I would say every billionaire in America except for Schultz and Donald Trump are Democrats. Given that fact, I am a bit skeptical that they actually mean what they say.

      1. Assert bullshit, call it a fact. Repeat until credibility is less than your common Tulpa.

        1. Name me a billionaire who is a Republican? Peter Theil maybe? The Kochs?

          Meanwhile all of the barons in Silicon Valley, who collectively represent nearly all of the richest and most powerful people in the country are Democrats. Add to that Warran Buffet, Bloomburg, and Tom Steyer.

          So name me the Republican billonaires or shut the fuck up. Sorry but talking out of your ass doesn’t cut it with me.

            1. Well, he got you there, John.

            2. I’d be interested to know who else they donated to, since many wealthy people hedge their bets by donating heavily to both sides

              1. Exactly. The article does not provide the evidence Chipper thinks it does.

                I’m sure there are Billionaire Republicans. But that link does not prove it.

              2. This is true. We know for a fact that Trump donated to Hillary’s campaign before he ran against her.

            3. Well, yes, there are billionaire Republicans. But according to Rush Limbaugh (yes, I listen) the reason the Republican party is not more conservative is because the big money donors do not want conservatism. They want open borders for cheap labor and government programs to purchase peace with the poor.

              Democrat billionaires use their money to fund the democrat party.
              Republican billionaires use their money to corrupt the Republican party.

              1. What a stupid and partisan comment. Billionaires who contribute to both parties do so for the same reasons. They do so to corrupt them to pass laws to benefit themselves. Many of the same billionaires who fund one party also contribute to the other to hedge their bets.
                You have to monumentally niave and stupid to believe that any billionaire funds any party purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

          1. Johnny boi, talking out the ahnoos is what you do best.

            1. So 23 of the 50 richest families donate to the Democrats. And that disproves my sketicism that the Democrats really mean this how?

              1. lol Keep moving those goalposts until you are out of range. Admit it. You’re a bullshitter.

                1. Do the tips of your fingers get numb from furious handwaving? Just curious.

                  1. This iteration of your sockpuppet is boring.

                    1. I assume you are referring to the “Tulpa” sockpuppet.

              2. You asked for names of Republican billionaires. Pretty sure that’s what you were being challenged on, not your claim that they don’t really mean it, which I think is probably true in most cases. Or they support it, but know they will be able to get around it.

              3. That list has a false premise. It assumes people/’families” who contribute to both parties actually lean to one political ideology. Most of those rich people dont contribute to just one political side.

                Trump is an example. He has contributed to Democrats and Republicans, evidently because doing that let him be an insider to both sides and kept as many crocked politicians off his back.

                Turns out he quite Libertarian-ish.

                1. Sure, but I think it also shows that they are pragmatic business-people and not hard-left ideologues who would be dumb enough to think ridiculous tax rates are a good idea.

        2. I’ll never fuck you Cathy.

    3. Things went horribly wrong in this country when we stopped imoriosming and destroying the lives of people likE Sanders for their communism. He should be barred from public service and govt. employment.

  2. I’m struck by how often our progressive brethren invoke majoritarianism, when it comports with their views. Sanders is talking about the 99.8%, and of course the Occupistas made much of being the 99%.

    However, point out that the vast majority of people are not adversely affected by the lack of special accommodations for persons of transgender, and expect a very different response…

    1. Better, point out that the majority can be adversely affected by special accommodations and get that different response.

  3. It gets easier every day for some Americans to want to take other American’s stuff

  4. 45%?
    Of $3.5 million?

    That’s why I hate these people: they talk all day about how horrible it is we don’t tax billionaires, and, the next thing you know, they’re propose taking half of a normal person’s retirement egg.

    Greedy assholes, all of them.

    1. Yeah, he’s just fucking lying with the 99.8% stuff. Best I can tell from a cursory search, the 99th percentile starts at around $8 million. $3.5 million is going to be the 95th percentile, plus or minus.

      That’s always the thing with these taxes on the rich. There aren’t enough of them to amount to any money, so they’ve got to smear it down further into at least the upper part of the middle class – if not further – to accumulate significant cash. It happens every fucking time.

      1. Unless I’m misinformed, this is how the income tax started — a relatively small (single-digits percent) tax that only affected people like the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. Didn’t take that long for it to expand enough to take a huge bite out of middle class paychecks.

        1. Didn’t take that long for it to expand enough to take a huge bite out of middle class paychecks

          . . . or to build a great nation, a point recognized by everyone other than disaffected, irrelevant, right-wing faux libertarians.

          1. Democrats often equate servitude and slavery with greatness.

          2. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|1.31.19 @ 4:29PM|#
            “. . . or to build a great nation, a point recognized by everyone other than disaffected, irrelevant, right-wing faux libertarians.”

            Ignorant assholes see something working and think it does so because of their ignorant efforts in stead of being in spite of such idiocy.

        2. 3000 people paid income tax the first year it was imposed.

    2. I think it’s 45% above $3.5 million. So if your estate is $4 million you’d pay 45% on the $500,000 above the $3.5 M threshold. I don’t think even Sanders is insane enough to propose a 45% effective rate on $3.5 M.

      1. I don’t know if insane is a matter of degree here.

        And remember, whoever proposes to plunder the most wins.

      2. They seem to forget that this is not their money. This is tantamount to theft.

    3. From a quick search ([link]) it looks like the wealth breakdown gives us a $2.3 million cuf-off for the “95%” as of 2016.

      So someone that has $3.5 million isn’t a “normal” person. They’re top 5% at least.

      Also, that’s not how marginal rates work.

      1. Is it accounting for the actuarial value of government pensions?

  5. What is sad and pathetic here is not that he wants to do this. Greed is a common vice and that someone wants to steal other people’s money to use for their own purposes is not surprising at all. What is sad and pathetic is that he thinks this is actually possible, that we can pass a law demanding it and the airs of billionaires will just hand over their estates and not move the money overseas or do whatever else is necessary to avoid the taxes.

    What a rube.

    1. Yeah, that really is the absurd part of this fantasy that taxing the rich will fix our problems. Same thing when people talk about really high income tax rates. No one is going to pay that. You don’t get to be a billionaire by not paying attention to what is going to happen to your wealth.

      And even if they could tax billionaires estates based on net worth, it seems like in many cases it could cause some weird market disruptions since billionaires tend to own large chunks of big companies.

      1. And even if you could somehow get all fo them to pay it, people would just stop working and there would be no more money to tax. At the heart of all of this is the fallacy that people will work as hard for the collective as they will for themselves. They won’t. The old Marxists as evil and crazy as they were at least were smart enough to understand this. The entire point of communism was to exterminate the undesirable classes to create a society of new men whose natures were different such that they would not exploit their fellow men and work only for the common good.

        That is a really crazy and evil ideology but it at least is to some degree internally rational. Socialists don’t even do that. They just ignore the problem and assume the exploiter classes will just turn over their wealth and work for the common good. They never will and trying to do so fails and just ushers in more extreme measures that were never contemplated by the socialists. This is why Lenin called socialists useful idiots.

        1. Are they useful though?

      2. People tend to overlook that paying estate taxes requires liquidating assets for cash (or taking on debt until you can). Once again the caricature of Scrooge McDuck’s wealth accumulation and asset management overrides reality.

        1. The big problem with billionaires is that that they all hoard their money in cash hidden under their many mattresses. If they actually invested it in worthwhile endevours they might be of some value. But as we all know, only politicians can do that.

    2. I doubt Sanders is so stupid to think he could pass this law. He’s just virtue-signalling. That his bills die in the Senate is proof that greedy 1%s are still running things.

      1. Taking money you already taxed is theft.

        1. I think we’re all on the same page there.

        2. Money isn’t taxed. People are.

          It doesn’t matter how many times you are taxed, it matters how many dollars they demand from you.

          They can tax me a hundred times, if I get to set the rate.

    3. Considering that tax revenue as a percentage of GDP has been relatively flat since the 40s, the only conclusion is that to become a Democrat, or a politician, one must forget any knowledge of economics.

  6. The avowed democratic socialist and possible 2020 presidential candidate is calling his bill the “For the 99.8% Act.”

    Ha! What a bunch of bullshit. The “99.8%” won’t see a fucking dime of any of that money.

    1. But they will see the benefits of that money as it is put towards the common good as their betters see it.

      1. Do you honestly believe the ‘billionaires’ will not just move away from America to keep their wealth. Let’s not forget that this money has already been taxed while it was being earned, and Bernie and his cohorts want to tax it again. This is unadulterated theft and it is done out of pure jealousy and spite. They are hoping to appeal to all the other jealous and spiteful not realising that the money raise by this tax will be miniscule.

    2. It comes to about a penny for each “rich” person.

      But, in bulk, that might be… $5 or something.

      Totes worth it.

      1. The instapundit guy has a great saying “what is sold as money to help the poor and the less fortunate always ends up in the pocket of some guy at city hall”. That sums up Progressive politics about as well as anything I have ever heard.

  7. It has the exact same problem as any wealth tax: the wealth is not in Scrooge McDuck swimming pools full of gold and jewels, it is investments mostly, some mansions, yachts, bizjets, Ferraris, and other toys.

    All has to be sold to turn into the cash the thieves need.

    And who the hell can afford to buy it? All those whose wealth is also investments and toys, which have to be sold to raise the cash to buy the stolen wealth.

    Then there’s the problem of determining the value so you can know what 77% is. The only way to do that is to sell it, all of it, then return 23% to be converted back into those investments.

    Plus, with so many more sellers than buyers, the market will be depressed and the value stolen will be much less. The stock market would tank. Can you imagine trying to dump 77% of Bill Gates’ $97B investments? Or Jess Bezo’s $160B?

    None of this will stop them from wanting it, or trying to actually pass it.

    1. Actually that depends entirely on the specific % of the tax. Obviously Sanders – and even Warrens proposal require an asset sale. But Switzerland assesses 50-75 basis points annually – not 300 basis points (like Warren) or 77gazillion basis points (like Sanders). At 50 basis points, all they would need do is pressure to change dividend policy on investments they own/control.

      1. If you make it small enough to be feasible, then it doesn’t collect enough to be worth passing. Or virtue signalling. What’s to gain from virtue signalling to a bunch of billionaires? They still get only one vote each.

        1. Depends. The point in Switzerland at least is not purely to raise money as if spending obligations are fixed. It is to level the payments burden across all sectors of their society — using the means of raising those revenues that actually affects each of those levels. Wealth tax is the ONLY tax source that matters to the wealthy. They can either avoid every other stream or it is simply irrelevant. So a wealth tax is the only tax that forces them to pay for what they get from govt.

          More importantly, leveling that tax burden field completely changes individual decision-making – and can thus dramatically change FUTURE levels of govt spending. Leveling the income v sales/VAT (middle v poor) interplay means that the ‘poverty trap’ can disappear. Which means people don’t depend on the safety net as much – which means future spending on that is less. We prefer treating that only as a moral issue (poor – exploited or shiftless bums?) Leveling the income v wealth (middle v rich) means people can more easily fund their retirement – which means lower govt spending on that. It affects other non-spending stuff too – though prob not by design.

      2. The Swiss do a lot of things right.

  8. So Bern, let me ask you something. You are worth more than million dollars and receive a very hefty Congressional paycheck. You are so concerned with the financial stability of this country and want more Americans to pay more taxes. My question is, when you pay your tax bill every April 15th, how much more in taxes do you pay than you are required to? Do you just pay the amount the government tells you owe? Or do you do what you say is the right thing and voluntarily pay more taxes? Are you leading by example and paying 70% of your net worth even though you are not required? Yea, didn’t think so. Therefore, FUCK OFF STATIST!!

    1. The better question is after Bernie takes and spends the money he is going to take from billionaires, what then?

      1. As always, first the billionaires, them the millionaires, then the thousandaires, then the hundredaires, then the tenaires.
        All the while raising taxes and politicians pay and perks.
        For the children.

        1. I wish people would read more history. The French Revolution is a perfect example of this, as are a lot of other things. They state went broke. So first they looted the aristocracy. When that money ran out they looted the church. When that money ran out they started looking for scapegoats and the killing began. The money they stole never solved the problems they were claiming taking it would solve. So when it ran out, and it always did and pretty quickly, they just went back and looted someone else. And when there was no one left to loot instead of admitting they were wrong, they blaimed their failures on traitors and the influence of foreign powers and started killing people.

          A solution is never going and taking someone’s money. That might be a way to fund a sollution but it is not a sollution in itself. And even if it is the funding of a sollution, the sollution isn’t sustainable because you can only steal the money once. Leftist politics is in one way nothing but a giant rationalization for denying that simple truth.

  9. “The avowed democratic socialist and possible 2020 presidential candidate is calling his bill the “For the 99.8% Act.””

    Enough reason right there to ignore the imbecile.

  10. As mentioned, these giant fortunes aren’t stashed under mattresses.

    I am more alarmed by the lower levels. So, if my mom doesn’t save enough money, she’s SOL. But if she saves too much, that doesn’t take the pressure off my kids and let them take more risks. Instead, the government gets the upside?

    1. People like Sanders absolutely want to make it so that someone like your mother who saves and lives a responsible life ends up with exactly the same standard of living as someone who never worked an honest day in their lives or saved a penny. This is what they call “fairness”.

    2. The Canadian government ‘clawed back’ my father’s pension because he ‘made too much money’. The thinking went something like ‘you pay us all these taxes and we determine if you can get your share’. My father held his end of the bargain by paying his ‘fair share’ and then the government punishes him because he was too successful. So not only did he pay taxes all those years, he had to pay the government back! Anyway, we felt it was not only unfair but immoral to do that. We took it to a lawyer and got that bull shit fixed and his pension restored. Now they owes us our god damn money back.

  11. Lol.

    Grandpa Gulag wants to steal money from the dead because it’s easier that way. They actually believe if you die that’s it. You have no right to hand that money down to your heirs because something, something lazy. As if it’s any of their fricken business. The reason they think this way, aside from obvious envy, is because they’re ignorant of the fact wealth is not static. That an estate stays within a family doesn’t take away anything from a prosperous society and economy. To them it’s a zero-sum game; the so-called pie gets eaten and there are just crumbs. Problem is, we’re ALWAYS baking new pies.

    Bernie is a lazy-ass son of a bitch who sits around plotting ways to steal and plunder for the ‘greater good’.

    Between him and AOC I just can’t. The stupidity is beyond the pale.

    1. I have some sympathy for the argument that the dead don’t own anything any more; that if they had wanted to distribute it to their heirs, they should do so before dying, and if they don’t, it would be a shame to let the banks keep it what’s in those unclaimed accounts, or companies to absorb those unowned shares, or house maids to walk off with unowned jewelry.

      At least it has a theory behind it other than “I want your money”, weak as it is.

      But it doesn’t take into account unexpected deaths. Even old weak people don’t know when they are going to die, and by the time they realize it’s real close, they are probably beyond the stage of making intelligent decisions about giving it away, let alone dealing with all the paperwork and making sure no one fudges it or lies to them. It has no consideration for people who die in accidents long before their natural time.

      Inheritance is a strange thing in allowing the dead to make arrangements after they no longer exist. But it is easy enough to understand, and it is a simple custom which makes society ever so much more polite and predictable.

      You’ve got to be one hell of a thieving sociopath to want to disrupt inheritance.

      1. The theory is that all wealth belongs to the government in that scenario.

        1. No, the theory about confiscating inheritance is that dead people don’t own anything; therefore the government, acting on behalf of the people, should collect it rather than random strangers.

          Dead people’s wealth. It’s a very limited theory.

          1. All wealth must belong to the government to make that statement true though. Otherwise, why else would it go to the government instead of whomever the individual wants after their passing.

            1. Once again! Dead people don’t exist and can’t own anything. Therefore it’s finder’s keepers. Why let it be some random stranger when the government acts on behalf of the people?

              This has nothing to do with all wealth.

              1. Why does anyone inherit anything? Shouldn’t all property of all kinds entirely default to the government in all scenarios? Is property and wealth communal via government? If the property is yours, why not allow contracts to disseminate it according to the owners wishes while still alive?

              2. By the theory that dead people don’t [legally] exist, they also can’t owe anything. Therefore, all debts are expunged upon death. No creditors trying to collect from the estate anymore. You didn’t get the money before Mrs Smith died? Too bad.

                It can’t work that way. Therefore, we create the legal fiction that dead people do continue to legally exist and that estates have a role in acting for the dead person to make sure that the assets and debts are resolved as equitably as possible.

                1. What I was trying to say, albeit ignoring the debtor aspect. It’s not a natural thing, it’s hard to derive it from self-ownership, it’s a custom, a tradition. And it has nothing to do with the government owning all wealth.

        2. Yes, I believe it started out as the idea that the king owns all your stuff after you die. And is kind enough to let your heirs keep some of it, sometimes.
          At least that’s how the lawyer explained it when my father died.

      2. Also note that a major reason that rich people don’t gift their money before they die is that gifts of over $15,000 per year are offset against the estate tax exemption. They’re not generally holding onto their money because they’re closed-fisted assholes.

        1. If you are rich and want to gift you rmoney, you have to do it to a charity and pay your tribute to the doo gooder industrial complex. Don’t think for a moment that nonprofits are not huge supporters of inheritance and gift taxes.

        2. That’s just another government gimmick to steal money. It’s like requiring $10K transfers be reported to the government. Next thing you have to do is make it illegal to transfer $7500 twice, even if by accident, like the corner store owner whose weekly depsoits were around $8-9K, so after a bit of that, the IRS asset forefitured his ass.

          1. IN the case of gifts, it’s a yearly limit. And you don’t get hit if you give $15k to someone every year.

      3. I have some sympathy for the argument that the dead don’t own anything any more; that if they had wanted to distribute it to their heirs, they should do so before dying,

        It’s called a Last Will and Testament for a reason. Its instructions are to be interpreted as if they were your last while alive.

        1. So what. You are dead. You don’t get to control the world after you die. Peace and civility among the living is what matters. If that means someone living wants to read from a piece of paper you wrote and use that as a basis for making decisions among the living, then respecting that is an act of courtesy to THEM not you. You’re dead.

          1. Its a form of contract dufus.

            1. Yes, but it is a somewhat unusual kind of contract. Most contracts end when one of the parties to it dies.
              I think it’s a good and useful thing that people can leave their wealth to people of their choosing when they die. And the government certainly has no more right to it than the person’s chosen heirs.

            2. contracts can’t bind third non-consenting third parties. a last will and testament does just that.

          2. So when someone dies I can take all their shit? Or does that just apply to government?

            1. Wills are addressed to a probate court. Not ‘to whomever picks up this document’. Even if they were addressed ‘to whomever picks up this document’, it is not binding on them because you are dead. And the government is not bound by what you write because – drum roll – you are dead. ‘Consent of the governed’ is a rather important core concept – and guess what – that does not mean consent of the dead.

              This entire notion that your WILL actually transcends your death is, from a historical perspective, an astonishing relic of monarchic ego – and before that, tribal/kin loyalties when the tribe/kin group actually provided most of the functions of govt and those tribes/kin groups actually directly determined how the govt was selected and what the govt did.

              In the monarchic, forcing the living in society to accept your will re the heir was nothing short of the dead determining the leader of the society. In the tribal, forcing the living to accept a will was a social tradition to ensure that the balance of power re tribes pre-mortem is not altered post-mortem by your death.

              But both of those are in fact unstable. Ultimately it is always up to the living to decide what actually happens. And both of them are profoundly at odds with either a republican ‘consent of the governed’ OR notions of the self-governing/owning individual as primary ‘driver’ of actions among the living.

    2. To progressives, history is either irrelevant, non-existent, or evil.
      It is an ideology of extreme ignorance and self loathing.
      Thus, it is “luck” that determines a person’s conditions at birth, not the result of that done by their ancestors.
      Progressivism’s totalitarian reach extends well beyond any individual’s grave.

  12. “99.8 percent of Americans would not see their taxes go up by one penny under this plan.”

    Well, at least Bernie didn’t rip off Obama’s “dime” meme.

  13. estate taxes are a form of double taxation, since the federal government is taxing money that has already been taxed.

    No they aren’t. We don’t tax unrealized gains and those are what comprises the VAST majority of big estates. Further, both annual and estate wealth taxes can just as easily be viewed as services rendered to protect/transfer property. I paid one year’s insurance premium on this art work 30 years ago so I don’t have to pay now that it has been stolen doesn’t work

    Just as Jefferson (noted communist) said – I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;” that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by an individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society…[cut for space]…But the child, the legatee or creditor takes it (estate property), not by any natural right, but by a law of the society of which they are members, and to which they are subject.

    And no I am not advocating anything remotely resembling Sanders BS. But tis interesting how quickly the donor class and their dingleberry munchers have pivoted to attack the new discussion about wealth taxes. Will Buffett weight in shortly with – You mean you want ME to pay taxes?

    1. People wrongfully use the valid arguments in support of not allowing restraints on alienation to support estate taxes. People claim to want estate taxes because they don’t want a perminant royal class that lasts generations and want to encourage mobility. Those are find goals but estate taxes do nothing to further them. No one with any real wealth every pays estate taxes. They either create a trust that their heirs can forever borrow against or they use the bulk of their estate to buy a universal life insurance policy the proceeds of which are not taxable.

      Big estates naturally disperse in a few generations. The exponential nature of multiple generations force them to in most cases. Even if it doesn’t and you have a couple of generations where there is only one heir, idiot sons are a real thing and generally the rule not the exception. The children of the wealthy almost always spend more than they make and leave less to their heirs than they recieved.

      The only way this ins’t true is if you allow restraints on alienation. And the common law got rid of those for very good reason.

      1. That’s actually a very good comments, John. Nicely put.

      2. My issue is solely that this (wealth tax – as a component of any other sort of tax for the purpose of funding the spending of govt) IS a valid issue for a self-governing society to discuss. It is NOT some natural rights argument as you are attempting to invoke with your ‘naturally disperse’. That discussion can ONLY occur if attempts aren’t made to shout it down with accusations of socialism/racism/etc.

        This is exactly what angered me about the immigration discussion pre-Trump. The easy accusations of racism which only served to intimidate people into not discussing the issue. Those people who do that are authoritarian scum. Because in fact they DO intimidate the discussion. That is their coercive objective. And what ends up happening when the issue moves beyond discussion stage to implementation stage is that ONLY those who are willing to be called racist or socialist (because they are) end up making the implementation change.

        1. BTW – I am not in favor of any estate taxes beyond the nominal. Assessing once on death is pragmatically pointless. Annual taxes – that’s different. If govt is instituted to protect property, then it damn well should charge those WITH property for the value of those services. Not make some general charge on everyone (with or without property) to protect the property title of a small portion of the population. Esp since said general charge also in practice creates a BARRIER to acquiring new wealth and thus serves to entrench existing wealth – and you can fucking bet the wealthy KNOW that which is exactly why they are perfectly ok with income taxes and sputter only with wealth taxes.

          1. I generally agree. If I have a bitch about the current tax structure it is the idea that capital gains or dividends are somehow less worthy of taxation than any other form of income. If the government wants to get its revenue by taxing income rather than say land or sales, that is fine with me. The problem is that they have decided that someone who makes money by buying and selling an asset is somehow less liable to be taxed than someone who makes money by selling their labor. There is nor moral case for such a distinction. All such a distinction does is benefit those wealthy enough to buy and sell assets for profit at the expense of those who sell their labor. It is all income and should all be taxed the same.

            1. One of the best things about annual wealth taxes is that it eliminates the need for almost all the cap gains/losses stuff which is full of games only available to those with big portfolios.

              Dividends ARE actually a true double tax now – but very easy to fix

              The problem with our current system is precisely that it IS focused entirely on income. And income is almost by definition a purely middle-class thing – NOT a thing that applies much to either the wealthy or the poor.

            2. The problem is that they have decided that someone who makes money by buying and selling an asset is somehow less liable to be taxed than someone who makes money by selling their labor. There is nor moral case for such a distinction.

              That is one extremely fine point, John.

              Why a society would privilege any type of income over earnings from work puzzles me.

              1. The government needs money in banks so that it can borrow that money. Governments all the way back to the medieval kings know the perils of not having access to borrowable cash.

                The lower rate on capital gains is an incentive to save money – to put it into assets that are held by bankers who can then make that cash available to loans to the government.

                There’s also the moral argument that most capital gains are yet more examples of double-taxation. Consider that most companies go up in value not from speculation but because they made profits. Those profits were already taxed once at the corporate level. If they are paid out as dividends, they are taxed again as income – clear double-taxation. If they are held by the company, the stock value goes up and, when you sell, become realized gains and are taxed again. But in this scenario at least, we limit the damage a little by putting it at a lower rate.

              2. Why a society would privilege any type of income over earnings from work puzzles me.
                Selling labor doesn’t involve risk like owning stock does. Without investors willing to take risks and be rewarded with lower tax rates would cripple the ability for economic growth.

          2. If govt is instituted to protect property, then it damn well should charge those WITH property for the value of those services.

            I think that is a dangerous sentiment.

            If it is protection of property, then the wealthy have then means to hire private security (and all the ancap arguments of how even registrars could be privatized) for protection. It is actually the poor who require government protection more.

            If it is user fees, only those able to pay the fees are able to access those portions of government. It is ancap in all but name. Why bother with government at all?

            If it is by quantity of property, the wealthy could turn the argument around stating that since they have the most to lose, they should be afforded more protections and more say than the common rabble.

            Even for the example you usually use, Switzerland, the tendency has been towards abolishing estate taxes.

            1. The wealthy already do have the means to hire private security for their property. But look at the ancap stuff from a natural rights perspective (since ancap is otherwise just crap). An alpha lion can protect his territory. But that means he’s got a big target on his back. He’s gonna be fighting all the time. Can’t actually outsource that to another lion cuz that outsourcer will then challenge the claim – and what will that outsourcer charge?? Won’t live long. His claim will never be secure enough to erect a drive-in showing Lion King starring ME. Or to go to Davos to hobnob with the other alpha lions. His claim will pass to the lion who maims/kills him – not his cubs (who will also be killed when he is). That’s a pretty harsh life. Avoiding that is hella valuable.

              The poor need protection of PERSON – not property. And when threatened, they usually have no qualms at all fulfilling their obligation to pay for that service – IN PERSON. Military and militias are never full of rich kids.

              the tendency has been towards abolishing estate taxes.

              As am I. Estate taxes are not the same as annual wealth taxes. Annual wealth taxes are more akin to a line-item that a mutual fund charges

              1. One of the difficulties in arguing from dogma, whether it is Christianity or Natural Rights. is that unless the suppositions are agreed to, the argument falls apart. Natural rights adds nothing to the discussion except for libertarians to cluck at each other endlessly about how many Mises can stand on the end of a pin.

                The ancap perspective is capital flight. There is no compelling reason to stay anywhere that has a price on your head (even if you agree to pay the ransom… for now.). Even the wealth taxes in Switzerland are organized regionally to attract wealth, putting areas in competition to agonize over services vs. revenue. A national wealth tax would be suicide. I would not presume to speak as to what benefits the wealthy. They are more than capable to lobby for it themselves.

                The poor are ALWAYS going to be more sensitive to losses in property than the wealthy, thus requiring greater protections. Notice the riots in France started with a fuel tax. Those aren’t the wealthy taking to the streets.

                And there is the greater question of equality before the law. There is no compelling reason why the wealthy should accept a greater burden for civilization than any other citizen. To have it foisted upon them with rationalizations to follow is disingenuous. The question should ALWAYS be what is the best way to fund government, and not one iota more.

                1. Capital flight is not ancap insight. Capital flight actually exists in the world. Ancap doesn’t do reality.

                  Notice the riots in France started with a fuel tax.

                  A fuel tax is not a wealth tax. And BTW – the gilets jaunes (read the stuff in French) believe those tax increases were used to fund tax cuts for corporations and the elimination of France’s wealth tax.

                  There is no compelling reason why the wealthy should accept a greater burden for civilization than any other citizen.

                  At least in the Swiss model – they DON’T.

                  The VAT/sales tax is two-tier – 3% on food/etc and 8% on everything else (everyone pays something)
                  The income tax is a flat 12% (30k exemption I think)
                  The wealth tax is 50-75 basis points (again some big exemption) which equates to about a 10% tax on a portfolio that yields a 6% reinvested return per year.

                  Switzerland is not repellent to the world’s wealthy. Obviously. And it can fund a fed govt that spends less as a % of GDP than we have since the 1920’s. With generally better outcomes. Depending solely on income tax is the unfair obscenity – because that mainly hits the middle-class – people who have to and do earn a living.

                  The difference is that the wealthy actually have to PAY a wealth tax.

        2. I think it is a valid issue. I do not think estate taxes are any better or worse than any other taxes. I find the hysterical claims that they are very unpersuasive.

          The problem with estate taxes is that they nearly always fall on the well off and miss the rich. If you are truely wealthy, you can avoid them. If you are just well off and say have a successful business but don’t have the money to put most of it in a trust or in a life insurance policy and still be able to live, you are screwed. So what is sold as a way to make Bill Gates’ heirs find a way to get buy on a few less billion ends up robbing the heirs of a successful small business of most of their inheritance.

          Estate taxes never raise much money or accomplish any of the goals their supporters claim they will accomplish. They just end up being nasty form of wealth redistribution.

          1. Agree 100%. And Sanders is a perfect example of that mindset. He’s viewing it as punishment – not payment for a service (protection of property) that is actually quite valuable.

      3. The solution isn’t to just throw up our hands and give up on estate taxes. It’s to ban those sorts of trust funds.

    2. Usufruct is the basis of property rights in Mexico and many other Latin countries. Not sure it’s working out that great for the average person.

      1. Yes it is and it is one of the biggest reasons why Latin American countries are so poor. Usufruct sounds great. Everyone can use everyone else’s property as long as they don’t destroy it. Who wouldn’t want that? The problem is that it condems most people to living on property with very little legal protections or certainty. That means people can’t accumulate wealth or borrow against property because only a very few people actually own all of the land and property in ways that are sufficent to enable them to borrow against it. The system ensures that all of the real wealth is concentrated in a very small generational elite.

        1. Wikipedia says Mexico has eijido, a variant of usufruct. They are different. Usufruct is voluntary, by contract. It is by definition fair.

      2. Eijido is not usufruct. It is collective ownership that is a remnant of pre-Columbian (or in the Old World – hunter/gather land usage) times.

        I agree completely that bank mortgages changed the nature of land ownership from usufruct to absolute property (usus, fructus, abusus). Cuz the stuff built on land always depreciates – but loans are fixed – so banks want to make sure they can foreclose on the land itself as collateral. In fact, land itself is what every bank insists serve as collateral for almost all their loans – because capital depreciates. But that just means redefining what elements of abusus apply in that shift.

        We did that with labor (you can abusus yourself by committing suicide or going on vacation – but we no longer allow the purchase/sale of humans). We did that with capital (you can run your machinery until they break – AND you can buy/sell). We chose to just eliminate land in economics by subsuming it as capital when it would have been quite easy to redefine abusus for that factor (you CAN’T destroy the land by say pouring mercury in the water – but you CAN buy/sell it).

    3. re: “estate taxes are a form of double taxation …
      No they aren’t. We don’t tax unrealized gains …”

      Yes, estate taxes are still a form of double taxation. We don’t tax unrealized gains because they are at that point still entirely hypothetical. We do, however, tax them as soon as they become realized.

      Okay, actually US estate tax law does have some weirdness about taxing the assessed value and using that to reset the “cost” basis. But it’s a really stupid way to accomplish the goal. Let’s walk it through a scenario. In this hypothetical, you earn $10M in one year, the only year you’ve ever earned money. You spend half of it on a really nice painting, then tragically die. The painting is the only asset remaining. By an amazing coincidence, the artist is “discovered” the same day you die and the value of the painting doubles.

      Under a no-estate-tax regime, you got taxed on the $10M when you earned it. Your heirs get the painting with a carry-forward cost basis of $5M, sell it for $10M and get taxed on the $5M in gains. Everything got taxed once and that taxable total was $15M. Note that it doesn’t matter whether the heirs sell it immediately or wait 10 years. The government will get its cut of the gains once they are realized.
      (con’t)

      1. (con’t)
        Under our crazy estate-tax regime (and ignoring the thresholds for our hypothetical), you still got taxed on the $10M when you earned it. The estate gets taxed on the current value of the painting which is now guessed at $10M. So the government is collecting taxes on $20M total. $5M of that is being taxed twice.
        In “compensation”, the heirs can now sell the painting but their gains will be based on a new “cost” basis of $10M. But that only matters if they have enough spare cash laying around to pay the government’s bill. Odds are a lot higher that they’ll have to sell the painting just to pay the taxes no matter how much they appreciated your taste in art.

        By the way, if the value of the painting goes down, the heirs are out of luck. Yes, they can deduct some of their losses when they eventually sell the painting but the restrictions how that can be treated in the tax code make that a doubly-losing proposition.

        In reality, you’ve got a lifetime of earnings and, contrary to your claim above, your estate’s unrealized gains are very, very unlikely to be a multiple of your lifetime earnings. Most of your estate will be stuff you bought that’s still worth about what you paid for it. In that scenario, it’s all double-taxation.

    4. “We don’t tax unrealized gains and those are what comprises the VAST majority of big estates.”

      I didn’t know that unrealized gains weren’t taxed. That’s seems like a reasonable swap for estate taxes. Tax all unrealized gains on death.Then 0 estate tax. (Maybe a little transfer tax, as below.)

      Better yet, constant wealth tax every year.

      “Further, both annual and estate wealth taxes can just as easily be viewed as services rendered to protect/transfer property.”

      Yep. You’re paying to have your property protected. Flat tax on wealth.

      A property transfer tax is reasonable too, but estate taxes are way too high for that. They’re much more a proxy for taxing unrealized capital gains.

      Note that a property transfer tax would squash high speed trading by which Wall Street sucks money out of the economy.

  14. Though I think the percentages are a bit high, I don’t have a problem with this in principle. The main danger is that people will move their money offshore. However there is no other country in the world where a billion dollars would be safe. That includes Europe, which is about to descend into another of their periodic conflagrations. So they have to keep it here. And that kind of security doesn’t come cheap. Of course, I also think we must cut spending (mostly social security and medicare) to achieve a balanced budget.

    1. The main danger is that people will move their money offshore.

      “No problemo! We’ll tax that at *88* percent!”

    2. It is pretty damn hard to move a family farm, or family business off shore.
      Anybody smart enough to have millions / billions is smart enough to have it working somewhere at something.

      1. Or investments in companies. Factories, warehouses, mines.

    3. They really don’t.

      And you don’t move your money to *one* country. You move it to several. And certainly not ever to Europe.

    4. Of course, I also think we must cut spending (mostly social security and medicare) to achieve a balanced budget.

      Now that’s just crazy talk.

    5. You will never get the money from billionaires with such a law because they have armies of lawyers who will find the loopholes. What you will do is destroy all the family farms and ranches as well as countless small businesses across the US because they do not have to lawyers or money to avoid paying the taxes. The estate tax now has severely impacted family farms because fertile farmland can be worth millions.

  15. Presumably, that amount would only be reached after each of the nation’s 588 billionaires have passed away.

    “But we need that money *now*, if you catch my drift.”

    1. Why do you think they want to be in charge of who gets effective health care?
      if you catch my explicit expectation of political euthanasia.

  16. As a 33 year old, I am appalled by how many of my peers think socialism is cool. They also, for some reason, think the government can fix all of our problems – if only they had more of rich people’s money!

    None of these morons consider that once the government has all the power, there is no one else to turn to when you don’t like the way the government has “fixed” things. When you don’t like an evil capitalist/corporation’s “fix” there are generally other companies offering similar services. No such luck when our benevolent leaders have all the power.

    1. Speaking of government power, I would be interested in your opinions on immigration, tariffs, abortion, gay marriage, transgender rights (including with respect to military service), and drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and the like).

      Thank you.

    2. Spread the word dude. Educate them on what Socialism is, how more government power and control limits life choices, and how there is no morality in stealing money to redistribute it to “those according to their need”.

    3. As a 33 year old, I think this says more about the company you keep then “our” peers. But i’m also skeptical that we’re “peers” in anything other then age.

    4. They think it is cool because they think someone else will pay and they will just get stuff for free. Just look at the protests in France just because the price of gas increased. That one increase of $1.00 was enough to cause people to panic.

      1. “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
        — Frederic Bastiat

  17. Too bad billionaires dont’t have the resources to shelter their wealth away from estate tax collectors.

    Bernie acts like the billionaires all keep their wealth in a bank account or something. Is he really that dumb? Or just pandering to class war socialists?

    1. “Is he really that dumb? Or just pandering to class war socialists?”

      Yes.

    2. Scrooge McDuck swimming pools.

  18. So tell me again:
    How many houses does Bernie own?
    What is Bernie’s net worth?
    How much of his personal fortune does Bernie donate to the causes he wants the federal government to enforce?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    1. Better you should ask “what tax deductions does The Bern take?” If he takes even one he’s your run of the mill hypocrite.

  19. OK, OT and all, but TFA does involve death:

    Man Accused Of Throwing Meth-Filled ‘Death Party’ For Wife

    If you gotta go, might as well do it in style. Love their selection of music to die by.

    1. Kickass album.

      In all honesty, it sounds like a decision that they both made in a crappy situation. I can’t really fault them for it, though I would’ve eschewed the meth.

    2. The state really hates when people die the way that they want to go.

  20. Our bill does what the American people want by substantially increasing the estate tax on the wealthiest families in this country and dramatically reducing wealth inequality.

    And people get upset when Trump spews bullshit that has no connection to reality but this asshole gets a pass?

    1. If we had anything but a brain dead Democratic state media, someone would ask this asshole why reducing wealth inequality is a good in itself. Why is reducing inequality, as opposed to improving the general welfare, a desirable end other than out shere spite and the desire to punish the lucky and the successful?

      1. Yeah, no one asks that. High inequality can certainly be a symptom of bad things going on, but I don’t see many good arguments for it being bad in and of itself. The one I’ve heard that is somewhat plausible is that high inequaality correlates with less stable, more violent societies. But I don’t think that the evidence for that is as strong as claimed.

        1. I don’t think economic inequality is bad per se.

          It does however lead directly to political inequality – always and everywhere. To special access. To guaranteed seats at the table. To special closed councils when critically important issues are being discussed (eg WW1 where picking sides really meant picking whether the French/British or German loans were more important – or a TARP/Fed bailout – or overthrowing Arbenz – or deciding to embargo Castro). To the ability to capture legislative/regulatory decisions and distort them which in effect erects a protective barrier around existing wealth.

          So the valid question is how to effect change re that political inequality. That is NOT a question that can simply be dismissed because dismissing the question simply means asserting that a republic should become a plutocracy/oligarchy. Republics which ignore that question – will ultimately die in civil war or revolution.

          1. That’s a fair point. I don’t have a good answer besides “make government small ?nd less relevant in people’s everyday lives and the inequality won’t matter so much. But another question. Has there ever been a republic without that kind of political inequality? Is it even possible to avoid? Maybe a stable political equilibrium is total fantasy. We’ve had a pretty good run in the US, and I don’t think it’s really about to fall apart, but nothing lasts forever.

  21. And Bernie, you worry so much about the poor and ‘wealth inequality’ but you refuse to consider that America one of the wealthiest nations on earth and that the majority of its population are in the top 10% for wealth globally and the top 2.5% for income.

    Yet you don’t advocate redistributing *that* to the needy?

    1. He has spoken about that, actually. Simply put, he’s a nationalist in the sense that while he’s concerned about the well-being of Americans, he isn’t terribly concerned about what’s going on elsewhere.

      Comes from his labor roots.

      Which isn’t to say you can’t criticize him for putting America first, but the supposed hypocrisy has been addressed before.

  22. Bern lies, wealth dies.

  23. It will end up being 100% by the time the estate sale is finished. If Bezos (both of them) were to kick the bucket today, their $150 billion net worth would need to raise $115 billion. That would almost 100% come from Amazon stock sales. If that much stock hit the market, even over a 1 year span, you would have a price drop. If the price drop is on average more than 23%, then they cannot cover the tax. And may even end up owing money.

    Then again, I don’t expect most of these senators to understand how billionaires work. Or that having billionaires correlates with a higher quality of life.

    1. You don’t even have to be Bezos. If I have a business that say makes $500,000 a year in income for me, that business is going to have an assessed value of (assuming a 5% expected return on investment) ten million dollars. That means my heirs will have to come up with $8.5 million to pay the estate taxes. Even if you could sell the business for its assessed value, which is hardly certain, the transaction costs associated with doing it and paying the state inheritance taxes which are usually around ten percent are going to leave my heirs with maybe a half a million dollars if they are lucky. An entire life spent building a business and a nice life ends up with my kids (lets say there are three) inheriting around $150 thousand each; not enough to even send one kid to college.

      1. And who do they ultimately sell to? Rich people who are most interested in purchasing valuable companies for far less than they are actually worth.

        Vulture capitalism will be far worse under Bernie.

        1. That is mostly how Buffet made his money. But the media will tell you Buffett is a noble selfish American for supporting high estate taxes.

          1. Even Buffet doing this I have no problem with. Most of the companies he acquired were undervalued through their own faults or oversights.

            It’s the difference between selling your house for well below market price because you want out of your house immediately so you can take a job in another state versus selling your house for well below market because the government is demanding 77% of the value of your house. The government is going to create a market for vulture capitalists. And I imagine the vulture capitalists are going to be well connected to the lefty politicos in charge.

        2. Since most politicians are lawyers, the lawyers will clean up too.

          They will make sure you pay “your fair share”.

  24. I am creating an honest wage from home 2500 Dollars/week , that is wonderful, below a year agone i used to be unemployed during a atrocious economy. I convey God on a daily basis i used to be endowed these directions and currently it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with everybody, Here is I started…..
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    1. Are you the same Rushin who meddled in the 2016 election?

  25. I am creating an honest wage from home 2500 Dollars/week , that is wonderful, below a year agone i used to be unemployed during a atrocious economy. I convey God on a daily basis i used to be endowed these directions and currently it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with everybody, Here is I started…..
    ????COPY THIS WEBSITE????

    HERE? http://www.briskgold.com

  26. The net result if implemented will be a raft of new foundations dedicated to what the founders thought was a priority for a while and then eventually they will migrate to the left and take policy positions just to the right of Che Guevara.

    1. And new jobs for leftists who don’t want to soil themselves working for an evil corporation. It always comes down to giving leftists money and power. But rermember, it is everyone else who is greedy.

  27. Why should the government have any claim to the wealth of a family just because someone dies? What makes this moron think that the government can do anything better with that money (which is a drop in the bucket of the federal budget that would just get squandered anyways)?

    Fuck you crazy ass old man.

  28. As Reason TV contributor John Stossel pointed out in August, estate taxes are a form of double taxation, since the federal government is taxing money that has already been taxed.

    Similarly, when I pay $60 to a neighbor’s teenager to mow my lawn, taxing that transaction (as the teen’s income) would be a form of double taxation, because I already paid tax on that $60 when I earned it. Especially because we wish to treat unearned income (a bequest to an heir) better than earned income (payments for work).

    If you don’t privilege indolence over effort, what type of society do you expect to develop?

    1. Are you still here?

      1. It is still here, breaking windows, telling everyone how much he is contributing to the economy, and completely missing the distinction between providing a service and a product. Or, the distinction between a wage and capital gains.

        Its ignorance knows no bounds. I like to think that I have a bit of wisdom because I can admit when I don’t know. I can see up its nostrils when I read its comments.

        Oh, and, Corpse Fucking. And for good measure… Crusty

  29. Bright side: Bernie Sanders will croak someday soon.

    He will leave us with one less Socialist asshole in the USA.

  30. As Reason TV contributor John Stossel pointed out in August, estate taxes are a form of double taxation, since the federal government is taxing money that has already been taxed.

    This is my personal ‘Universal Basic Income’. That is, if all other taxation were done away with, I could understand and even make sense of massive death or a estate tax from a libertarian perspective. Knowing Bernie, he in now way plans on repealing the other taxes and wants this on top of them, which is why I opposed him even when Reason was making the libertarian case for him and UBI.

  31. Comrade Bernie has no bad ideas since they come right out of the wise ideas of Saint Karl Marx.
    We should redistribute the wealth so our ruling elitist vermin can enjoy life better, enslave the masses so they become willing slaves to The State and raise our children to be grateful to live in a socialist slave state complete with oppression, tyranny, mass murder, gulags and a failed economy.
    America has the opportunity to out perform Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s PRC, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castro’s Cuba and Maduro’s Venezuela.
    We can turn America into a third world shit hole in no time.
    All we need is to have Comrade Bernie in the White House dascha running and ruining our lives and the will to do it.

  32. I hope Bernie realizes that estates over $3.5m are not that uncommon anymore. It isn’t 1950. That’s nearly 2 million households. Assume it’s a family of three and you’re talking about seizing wealth from millions of people and the only reason anyone thinks that sounds okay is because of the statistical fallacy Sanders uses. 1% sounds a lot smaller than 6 million people.

  33. Shouldn’t libertarians support a 100% inheritance tax? Your right to your property is based on the fact that you earned it, right?

    1. No, doesn’t matter if you earned it as long as you came by it honestly.

      1. Personally, I disagree, but I understand that this may not be the libertarian perspective or, maybe, my quirky ‘no true libertarian’ standpoint.

        Taking from a dead body isn’t a use of force unless you killed them, bodies don’t have agency or choice. Further, inheritance as enshrined by law co-mingles religion and nepotism in a way that fundamentally fuels monarchies. Little and even big monarchies are absolutely OK as long as it takes time to transition from a little monarchy to a big one.

        Now, I’m not in favor of a tax greater than about 50% and think 10% would make much more sense and, again, only advocate this in contrast to (rather than in addition to) taking taxes by force from living, non-consenting people (double, triple, and multiple-dipping as we go along). We’re already living off the benefits of the wealth accumulated by generations before us. My kids didn’t pay a dime to build the interstate highway system, their kids won’t have paid a dime to build the internet. Might as well let me and the previous generations keep our income while we can spend it. If you want to bequeath it to your offspring upon your death, go to some other country.

  34. Gotta love Bernie because at least he is honest. So you pay taxes all you life on income, assets and investments but when you die, Bernie think the government deserves 78% of what is left? Why? Because it can? The only thing such a law would do is create a massive new force of lawyers whose practice focuses on avoid the law and a massive transfer of wealth offshore.

  35. What idiots like Bernie fail to grasp is such a law will not
    Impact all those billionaires hiding their money but this type of law would destroy family farms, ranches and businesses because the heirs would not have a way to pay such a tax. All the bill would do is put these small business in the hands of large corporations which socialists hate. Great plan

    1. Bernie coming from Vermont always made me laugh when people from Vermont tried to say they were anything but Lefties who liked guns.

      In 2018, even many of their gun freedoms were allowed to be stripped away.

    2. Are you sure they don’t grasp that? Because I’ve long since stopped giving people whose ideas have foreseeable and demonstrable consequences the benefit of the doubt. With the left, it’s wiser to assume malice rather than stupidity.

  36. “The estate tax is a form of double taxation.”

    No, it’s not. Bernie’s plan is ludicrous, but this “double taxation” argument is college freshman level.

    If you want to look at it this way, basically all money that is taxed, has already been taxed, and will be taxed again. But the reality is that there are no static piles of money — there are only incidents of cash flow. And passing money on to the next generation is an incidence of cash flow.

    I’m a conservative, but there’s nothing wrong with an estate tax in theory. It’s better than the income tax. Even a wealth tax might make more economic sense than the income tax. The differential in rates for wages vs capital is also likely too big. With high exemptions over $10 million now for the estate tax, we don’t have issues like a poor family not being able to pass on the family farm. I wouldn’t object to a slightly larger estate tax/lowered exemptions, but it shouldn’t be much larger than the ballpark of where it is now. All of this is relatively unimportant compared to the problem of spending.

    1. there’s nothing wrong with an estate tax in theory.
      if your theory is to destroy the human habit of people wanting to leave something to their kids, nothing wrong with it at all. By the way, what conservative principle is involved in govt taking a portion of someone’s things simply due to death?

      Its relative value vs the income tax is neither here nor there. Essentially, you’re advocating another form of wealth confiscation. What someone does with a life’s worth of assets is no one’s business, least of all the govt’s.

      1. what conservative principle is involved

        The idea that rightfulness of ownership is rooted in one’s having earned one’s wealth?

        1. when did conservatives start believing that govt could freely seize assets that came from inheritance as opposed to those earned through productive activity?

          1. I don’t know that they do believe that, but they loudly and constantly assert that the wealthy are entitled to their wealth because they earned it. That would seem to imply that inherited wealth is ill-gotten.

            1. If inherited wealth is ill gotten since u didn’t work for it, how is taxation to take it any more legit?. The gov’t doesn’t really “earn” anything either . It just confiscates.

      2. Is wealth confiscation any worse than income confiscation?

        We certainly don’t need more taxation, but there are many ways you could do taxation.

        1. Is wealth confiscation any worse than income confiscation?

          We certainly don’t need more taxation, but there are many ways you could do taxation.

          Yes. If I find a live person in an alleyway presumably I’d have to use force to take their money. With a dead body, there’s no presumption of the use of force. I may’ve committed a crime but just as with a host of crimes that earn libertarian-backing, the victim at the very least isn’t clear. Arguably, it’s not confiscation and the assumption that you will just get all of your ancestors’ wealth without condition is the very definition of entitlement. Think about the moral dilemmas posed by the Trolley Car problem, now imagine the fat guy is already dead.

          Efficiency-wise, income taxation involves businesses, sometimes several, year over year, with a significant paper trail and lots of overhead. Death/Estate Tax is assessed precisely once and, presumably, would represent the flattest of flat taxes.

      3. By the way, what conservative principle is involved in govt taking a portion of someone’s things simply due to death?

        Strangle monarchies in the crib and salt the earth wherever they may grow.

    2. The difference is that when you give your money to your children throughout their lives as costs of raising them, gifts, etc. there is no taxation because it’s absurd to suggest that helping your children should be a taxable even akin to buying a car. The only reason this happens as an “estate” tax is because you’re dead and can’t contest it.

  37. I think it’s a great idea. Allowing huge piles of wealth to accumulate inspires the kind of stratified horseshit society we have now. If people dont want the government to take it upon their death, they are free to spend it or give it away while they live.

    1. they are free to…give it away while they live.

      Nope. The IRS has already thought of that. If you give away too much, you’ll get hit with the “gift tax”. I believe it’s 40%.

    2. by what right or principle does any part of this money belong to govt? And who gets to determine what “huge piles of wealth” amount to in dollar terms?

      You’re advocating a different form of asset forfeiture.

      1. Do dead people have rights?

        1. their heirs have rights, and a will is a legal document. I don’t believe it includes a line for “less what the govt arbitrarily takes from this.”

          1. their heirs have rights

            That’s the 3rd Am., right? The one that assures the offspring the privileges afforded their fathers. It always seemed weird that a bunch of dudes who fought a war to escape a monarchy and religious tyranny would enshrine divine birthrights into the constitution.

            a will is a legal document

            But not a contract and a conditionally unenforceable one at that. Even when it is enforced, who does the enforcing? Hardly a ringing endorsement of freedom.

            Please note: I’m not advocating Bernie’s position of 77% death tax likely on top of other sales, income, and excise taxes. Something well less than 50% and only with the absolute abolition of all other taxes. Like a one-time flat tax. Far more efficient, objective, and ‘fair’ or moral than the nonsense of taking more from someone’s income this year because they made more money last year.

    3. Its theft and everyone who wants that estate knows it.

      As Vernon says, the IRS even tracks when you try and gift it away.

      The problem is that political hacks like Bernie think government is entitled to your wealth above what taxes are needed to run a tiny and limited government.

  38. If John Stossel is pointing out that this is a bad idea, that’s a sure sign it’s actually a good idea. And as for the “point” that estate taxes are so-called “double taxation”…no it isn’t. It’s not the dead person who previously paid taxes on the income that’s being hit with the estate tax. It’s whoever inherits their wealth. And the heirs certainly had not previously paid taxes on that same money.

    1. Well said.

      I take issue with the amount that Bernie wants to take (77%, seriously!), but the idea that the inheritance tax is somehow morally more evil than just regular taxes is absurd.

  39. At the most abstract level, I see an estate tax as less bad than an income tax, because an income tax punishes productivity whereas an estate tax punishes aristocracy. So, theoretically, I would accept estate tax hikes as a way to substantially reduce income taxes.

    Of course, we all know the socialists who are proposing estate tax hikes are not thinking of providing income tax relief. They are proposing more giveaway programs to the underclass whose wealth envy they are stoking.

    All the estate tax will do is to create more demand for smart accountants and lawyers to devise schemes for getting around the tax. And if the laws are airtight enough, it will just chase the wealth into offshore tax havens.

    Democrats know all this. But they also know that stoking the wealth envy of government-dependent voters keeps them in power.

    Oh, and by the way … my “estate” is well less than $3.5 million. So Sanders’ proposal wouldn’t tax my beneficiaries.

    1. And if the laws are airtight enough, it will just chase the wealth into offshore tax havens.

      And?

  40. Pinochet did nothing wrong.

  41. $3.5million isn’t that big of an estate. Single homes can be worth that. This wave of desire to steal all the rich people’s money is sick and stupid. Almost all foundations (Ford Foundation etc) are funded from estates. It is the rich who have money to start a business. This is cutting our own throats because we are jealous. The rich in America mostly built their fortunes (Bill Gates for example) by building a business. They didn’t steal their money.

    1. whether it’s stealing depends on whether property rights for dead people ought to be legitimately enforced. This is essentially what the debate boils down to, so your argument is pretty circular.

    2. You do not have to be rich to start a business. Anyone can do it. Not all will succeed. But it is worth trying.

      1. That is less and less true. Legal and regulatory barriers to entry are getting higher and more costly. Starting a new business can get you into big trouble or even prison if don’t have the resources to hire good lawyers, compliance consultants, accountants, and human resources officers. And of course, the money to do what they advise. “We can start our own company right here in the barn” is very high-risk these days.

  42. hmm. i think there are more important causes to be concerned about with regard to freedom than what is done with dead people’s cash. Sounds like bernie’s plan would reduce the amount of merit-free trust fund babies who don’t contribute anything meaningful to society, while benefiting people with merit who weren’t lucky enough to be born into rich families. Like, wouldn’t it have been better if we took the money Trump would have inherited and given it to more deserving people? Why should property rights extend beyond your life? If you want to give your fortune to your kid or whatever, gift it to them before you die. Once you’re dead though, your junk should be up for grabs, like previously un-homesteaded resources.

    1. hayek > friedman|1.31.19 @ 7:01PM|#
      ” Like, wouldn’t it have been better if we took the money Trump would have inherited and given it to more deserving people?”
      “We” give it to “more deserving people”? Pretty infantile assumptions right there.

      “…Once you’re dead though, your junk should be up for grabs, like previously un-homesteaded resources.”
      So we just turn the looters lose?
      Screw you; my money is going where I want it to and that does not include the gov’t any more than absolutely required.

      1. ‘”We” give it to “more deserving people”? Pretty infantile assumptions right there.”

        – further elaboration is needed. potential citations missing. this appears to be a great example of an attempt at proof by assertion.

        “…Once you’re dead though, your junk should be up for grabs, like previously un-homesteaded resources.”

        – see straw man fallacy. also see john locke and how homesteading works. looting isn’t part of it.

        “Screw you; my money is going where I want it to and that does not include the gov’t any more than absolutely required.”

        – that’s right, the world has to keep it’s hands off your 30k death benefit from your annuity you show ’em, cletus.

        1. Oh, goody! Fucking ignoramus shows up!
          hayek > friedman|1.31.19 @ 8:34PM|#
          ‘”We” give it to “more deserving people”? Pretty infantile assumptions right there.”
          – further elaboration is needed. potential citations missing. this appears to be a great example of an attempt at proof by assertion.”
          Ignorant response noted, ignoramus

          “…Once you’re dead though, your junk should be up for grabs, like previously un-homesteaded resources.”
          – see straw man fallacy. also see john locke and how homesteading works. looting isn’t part of it.”
          See stupid response for stupid response.

          “Screw you; my money is going where I want it to and that does not include the gov’t any more than absolutely required.”
          – that’s right, the world has to keep it’s hands off your 30k death benefit from your annuity you show ’em, cletus.”
          “The world, fucking scumbag, is irrelevant here. Are you hoping to get a new sewage tank for your RV, asshole?

          1. Corrected:
            “The world”, fucking scumbag, is irrelevant here. Are you hoping to get a new sewage tank for your RV, asshole?

  43. “Our bill does what the American people want by substantially increasing the estate tax on the wealthiest families in this country and dramatically reducing wealth inequality. From a moral, economic, and political perspective our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little. So I’m going to rob your next door neighbor’s house and take all his shit. But don’t worry, I’ll leave all your shit alone.”

    I’ve never been able to understand why income inequality was supposed to be such an evil thing. If people make more money than I do (and many do) it really doesn’t matter to me. Now if their argument is that these ultra-rich are using all their money to impose laws on me that I don’t support that’s worth considering but I’m not sure I see that happening. All I see is a government with an insatiable appetite for tax money and plans spend it on people other than me.

    1. “Now if their argument is that these ultra-rich are using all their money to impose laws on me that I don’t support that’s worth considering but I’m not sure I see that happening.”

      – umm, are you high? When has this not happened? The income tax, institution of slavery, federal reserve. regulatory capture. the draft. bailouts for large banks. abortion restrictions. regulations for the sake of barriers to entry.

      The biggest enemies of free markets are today’s established capitalists. They have the most to lose via competition.

      1. hayek > friedman|1.31.19 @ 8:41PM|#
        “The biggest enemies of free markets are today’s established capitalists. They have the most to lose via competition.”

        The biggest enemies of free markets is fucking ignoramuses like you.

  44. Fuck you commie ass hat

    1. devastating rejoinder. wouldn’t have expected that from you, cletus.

      1. “devastating rejoinder. wouldn’t have expected that from you, cletus.”
        Inane response. Would have expected that from you.

  45. Sen. Sanders, Warren, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and all of them TELL what their intent is: No one should have that much money, and they propose to take it and reduce them to a lower level of income and wealth. (That in America you can succeed and make money. … But not too much success or money.)
    THEY claim that once their laws are enacted the nation will be just as wealthy, wealthier, and it will be distributed more fairly and equally among us.
    I am pretty sure economists can explain to us that the nation will be considerably less wealthy after those laws are enacted. And it will be harder to find the money to invest in ‘the next big thing’.

  46. Isn’t the net worth of these billionaires mainly stock in their companies? How does the Fed actually seize 77% of it? Force the heirs to sell it or take direct ownership?

    If it is a massive forced sale, the tax would bring only a fraction of the expected haul as prices plummet.

  47. Force the heirs to sell it

    Correct.

  48. Are these people forgetting that billionaire have the ability to leave the country on a whim and take their money with them. There may well be other countries with high tax brackets, but I doubt any of them would take all of your money the way Bernie and the other Dems want to.
    How many billionaire with stick around waiting to die so the state can take their money and not allow them to pass it on to their children.
    I suspect many of them would rather give their money to their favourite charity than give it to the state.

  49. There is a book titled Die Broke by Pollan and Levine I read a few years back.

    I plan to do exactly that. Most of us will still be alive when our grandchildren are at least college age. If you are able to help your kids out do it when you are alive and they need it for things like education, help with rent or buying a house, starting a family.

    The nursing home and hospital will take all you have left eventually.

    Look what the Trump family did. They transferred ownership of real estate holdings to family on the cheap.

    The government will steal everything. Spend it or give it away.

    The multi billionaires have a bigger problem than I do.

  50. There is no such thing as double taxation. Nor is there an argument for why it would be inherently bad if it did exist. There is no moral argument for why the spawn of billionaires should get a vastly bigger leg up in life than the spawn of poor people, especially if you base your economic philosophy on the morality of work and independent effort.

    Thank you.

    1. Nor is there an argument for why it would be inherently bad if it did exist.

      Unless transaction costs are a thing.

  51. Looks like Bernie the Socialist is coming up as one of the Democrats more conservative Presidential candidates. He only wants 77% of DEAD billionaires money, while the rest of the crowd wants 77% of still LIVING billionaires money.

  52. I am not opposed to **the idea** of an estate tax, because I am not a hardcore libertarian, but 77%? Geez.

    I don’t buy the libertarian argument that its “double taxation”, because technically, everytime money changes hands it gets taxed (why should parent to child transfers be any different); but at the very least the tax amount shouldn’t exceed our normal tax rates as if it were just regular income.

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