The House of Representatives recently voted to eliminate the estate tax. Because of the recent vote, the topic may come up in conversations with people you know.
This is an easy case to “win” because there is such a strong moral case for inheritance taxes and it’s also a great opportunity to practice talking about what you believe.
Most of what you’ll see in the media, however, consists of the “strong” moral case for corporate special interest groups and a “weak” response. By weak response, I mean a case that doesn’t talk about the morality of the estate tax. A case that is often simply the negation of conservative arguments. A moral case should explain ‘why’ we believe in inheritance taxes.
To start, I believe …
1. Privilege should be earned (not inherited).
To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered – not gambling in stocks.
Roosevelt said it better:
No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered — not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective — a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.