Letter: Why we have an inheritance tax

I read Eugene Sukup’s Dec. 10 column “Why I support estate tax repeal” on why he supports repeal of the estate tax arguing that, “Owners spend years paying taxes and providing jobs,” and that, “it is hugely destructive and unfair to tax ones’ death.”

He looks at it from the wrong perspective. The inheritance tax is not imposed on the person who as passed, but rather on the one time income of the heir. If the same wealth was earned through wages, sales, or dividends from investments, it would be taxed. What makes income resulting from benefactor’s death different from wealth coming from other sources? Nothing.

A building block of this country is success resulting from the hard work of individuals and communities. This was contrary to the European model of hereditary aristocracies that suppressed the economic improvement of others. A review of many laws of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century support an effort to prevent an American haut monde through inheritance taxes.

Ganesh Sitaraman, in his book, “The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution,” posits that prerequisite of stable government was relatively income equality among the citizens. In an interview with The Atlantic, Sitaraman said, “The idea here is that to have a republic, you have to have relative economic equality.”

The inheritance tax is a tool to prevent societal instability subsequent to economic inequality. We already suffer from substantial economic inequality. Repealing this tax is another step away from equal opportunity and toward extreme income inequality.

Scott Foens



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