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December 10, 2010

To Compromise Or Not

Joe Charlebois

One year later the debate arises again. Last December I wrote on the immorality of the Estate Tax. At that time Congress was debating whether to allow the Estate Tax to be repealed for 2010 or instituted at a previous rate.


Under current consideration in the U.S. Senate is a proposal that Republican leaders and the president have hammered out in a compromise of sorts. It would allow the Bush era tax cuts to continue; it would extend unemployment benefits; and it would set the Estate Tax rate at 35% with exemptions beginning at $5 million for individuals and $10 million for families.


As it stands now congressional Democrats are fighting the idea of any compromise. The “take-it-or-leave-it” stand that Vice President Joe Biden gave to House Democrats is likely to fall flat.


The compromise, if it is pushed through prior to years’ end, will have winners and losers on both sides of the aisle.


As immoral as it is to have a progressive tax structure, it is even more so to allow any sort of estate tax to be re-enacted.


As I’ve stated in previous columns the Estate Tax is in reality a confiscation of private property and nothing more.


Why is this type of taxation wrong?


The Declaration of Independence, which is based on Natural Law, states that we are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When John Locke wrote of these principles it was life, liberty and property. We, like no other nation, have been able to follow and pursue our dreams without fear that our government would seize what we had rightly earned, such as our home, land or business.


“The institution of the death tax is antithetical to our founding principles. It is the direct confiscation of property with no moral justification.


“Property – whether in the form of land, building, business or cash – is in essence a part of one’s life. When we go to work – whether for someone else or ourselves – we are trading hours of our lives for a certain level of compensation. At the end of our lives we should be solely responsible for directing how our life’s work should be passed on. The government should have no say in how it is spent.”


“Our founders assured us with well reasoned thought that no man’s property can be taken without the due process of law.”


The best and fairest solution would be to get rid of all exemptions and maintain a flat tax that would not penalize those who become successful and permanently repeal the Estate Tax – no one, no matter the size of their estate, would be subject to federal confiscation.


The property that one accumulates in a lifetime is already taxed once, twice, maybe much more. Why then should the government tax it once again just because the owner has passed on?


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