End of the Death Tax?

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photoWhether you call it the estate tax or the death tax, here's the issue: If Johnny makes a billion dollars in the good old American way, should Johnny Jr. inherit that billion, untouched by government taxes?

Powerful interests in the Bush camp want to abolish the estate tax once and for all. And they are confident they're going to do it. So confident that Bush didn't even bother to include it in his economic stimulus package. It's only fiar, they say, that this tax go down.

But critics of the abolition drive--including some of the richest names in the land--say the estate tax is vital to keeping America American and not the plutocrat's dream of a hereditary aristocracy. The wealthy owe the country that supported them the greatest debt, they say. So pay up.

This hour On Point: death, taxes, and the fight over what exactly is the American way.


William H. Gates, Sr., co-author, "Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes" and head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter, The New York Times and author of a forthcoming book, "Perfectly Legal: The Untold Story of the Campaign to Cheat 99 Percent of America"

William Beach, Director of the Center for Data Analysis, Heritage Foundation

Leonard Burman, co-director of the Tax Policy Center and deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis from 1998 to 2000

This program aired on January 27, 2003.


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