Reconsidering the "Death Tax"

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According to the old adage, the only two sure things in this world are death and taxes. And even death is not immune from taxes. The Senate is soon to consider whether to make permanent the repeal the estate tax, which critics have renamed the "death tax." The estate tax is the high tax burden placed on the inheritances of the wealthiest Americans.

The debate over the estate tax puts two fundamental American principles in conflict with each other. On the one hand, Americans strongly believe that citizens should have the freedom to use their wealth in any way they wish — and that includes bequeathing it to heirs.

But the United States was founded on the principle that all people are created equal. When the children of wealthy parents are given a huge head start, a kind of American aristocracy is created.

This hour, the pluses and minuses of repealing the death tax...and the role that inheritance should play in American society.


Mary Kathleen O'Connell, Partner in Estate Planning & Administration at Goodwin Procter

Chuck Collins, co-founder of, co-author of forthcoming book "Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes"Steven Moore, President of The Club for Growth

This program aired on May 29, 2002.


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