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Should Congress eliminate the Estate Tax?

Screen shot from Fox News' YouTube video: Speaker Ryan: We want to get rid of the estate tax
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As the Republicans in Congress work on a major tax reform bill, one of their main goals is the repeal of the Estate Tax, or, as they call it, the “Death Tax.” The Estate Tax is a tax on estates worth a certain amount of money or more that is left to the heirs of the estate. However, it is not applied when the estate goes to the surviving spouse of the deceased. According to the IRS, the Estate Tax in 2017 will only be applied to estates worth more than $5.49 million, and will go up to $5.6 million in 2018.

The Estate Tax generates billions of dollars to the United States government, yet it is rarely applied. Despite the rarity of its use, it is a substantial tax on certain estates, and the beneficiaries still have to pay inheritance taxes after paying the Estate Tax. This means they are essentially being taxed twice for the same assets. That being the case, should we eliminate the Estate Tax?

Those who support the elimination of the Estate Tax see the tax as fundamentally unfair. They believe that the federal government is taxing someone for dying. Also, it is so rarely used that there should be no problem with its removal from the books. Plus, there are people like farmers who do not have monetary wealth but who have substantial assets in the value of their farm and, by applying the Estate Tax to the deceased, beneficiaries could force them to sell the farm to pay the tax. Finally, the estates that are taxed were built on a lifetime of hard work and the person who dies should be able to give it to whomever they want without penalizing those that receive it.

People who oppose the elimination of the Estate Tax see the attempt to remove it as another giveaway to the mega wealthy. The Estate Tax generates so much money that its removal will force the government to make up the revenue somewhere else, by either raising taxes on everyone else, or cutting needed programs. They do not believe for the moment that any money that the wealthy saves with its repeal will be put back into the economy, but instead will go into the bank accounts of the super rich.

What to do with one’s belongings after death is always a touchy subject. Whether you have millions in the bank or you are living paycheck to paycheck, you still have to make the decisions on who gets what. No amount of property or money will make up for the loss of a loved one. How much the government receives will always be up for debate.

In this clip, Fox Business shows Speaker Paul Ryan talking about repealing the Estate Tax:

The Issue

Should Congress eliminate the Estate Tax? Is the Estate Tax a penalty against someone for dying? Would eliminating it be a giveaway to the mega rich?

In favor of eliminating the Estate Tax

Those in favor of eliminating it say that it is an unfair tax on a person’s lifetime of work. The deceased heirs’ should not have a massive tax added to their grief.

Against eliminating the Estate Tax

People against eliminating the Estate Tax say that by getting rid of it you are putting a big hole in the budget that will have to be filled by raising taxes on everyone else or cutting needed government programs.

Do you think Congress should eliminate the Estate Tax?

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