Stealing from the dead when they aren’t looking.

In the weird ways of Washington, the Estate Tax, aka the Death Tax, was stepped down annually from 55% until it reached 45% for 2009. Then on January 1st of this year it dropped in one fell swoop all the way to zero, but for 2010 only. In 2011 the tax goes back to 55% unless Congress acts to change it. You have just 4 ½ months left in which to die tax free.

Senators Kyl (R) and Lincoln (D) have written a proposal to set the new rate at 35% with something like a 5M dollar threshold, all of which you would be able to keep for your heirs before the tax is applied. That sounds reasonable enough, especially to those of us with less than 5M. But wait! By what line of thinking does the government have a right to your money just because you died?

True, it is money you no longer need. Your heirs didn’t earn it, but neither did the government. And we all know that no one feels compassion for a millionaire, dead or alive. Taking your cash when your hand has been stilled is not a government right. It’s an opportunity, that’s what it is…and as we have learned, government never lets an opportunity go to waste. (Or was that a crisis?)

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