We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I am completely opposed to any death taxes. The income has already been taxed.
Why tax the dead? Well, it was because the turn of the century (last century) Progressives hated the wealthy families. Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. appeared to hate the wealthy because their influence, like that of churches and large businesses, competed with government - as they should wish to compete. Government is not God. Over the years, many families have fallen victims to that tax other than those who are slick enough to dodge it.
My view is that I want all families to be free to be as wealthy and independent as they chose to be, and to be free to accumulate whatever they want to for their futures. Farm, flower shops, whatever. It means a lot to people. In America, wealth is never the most important thing in life but everybody cares about their family and their families' futures. You can call it love, not greed.
I think breaking the power of any nongovernmental forces is indeed part of th equation. All organisms seek to get resources and cut out competitors.
But mostly, I think the government just wants the money.
Assistant Village Idiot
If we grant that governments can serve a useful purpose and that they need resources to do such good (I am a classical liberal, and assume both are true), then they need to have a means to collect the resources. One way to do so is to collect taxes.
There are pros and cons to any tax, as they can cause distortion so in the market and influence incentives. One way to collect taxes is an income tax, another a fuel tax, a corporate tax, and so on. Inheritance taxes are another mechanism. I fail to see how inheritance taxes are intrinsically worse than alternatives.
I certainly agree that the government does too much, and that higher taxes in general is a bad idea, but I don't think a tax on inheritance over X million is a bad idea, compared to other taxes.
How are inheritance taxes worse than other taxes? In the first place, the money that is inherited has already been taxed. Then, I think that a tax should be the result of a taxable event. For me, a taxable event would be either a fee for a service or a fee for the maintenance of a service such as police force. None of those pertain to an inheritance.
There's also an edge condition where a parent wants to provide for a child who might have difficulty after he's gone such as a handicapped child or a child who is running a family business. It makes no sense to tax the efforts of a parent to keep their child from being a drain on public resources or to force a person to sell a going concern just to pay taxes.
Governments' natural tendency is to expand. Feeding the beast will only give it reason to take more. Death is just an excuse for the government to take somebody's money.
Thanks for the reasoned reply. I like your emphasis on paying for services where practical (park use for example). However I don't agree it is practical in many or even most cases.
Agin to clarify two points... I agree taxes are too high. My argument is the trade off of inheritance taxes vs other alternatives. I see taxes on death as less destructive than taxes on investment, employment or income. Second, I would set a high exemption in the order of millions, so this would not apply to small businesses or the care of family members.
As Zachriel clarifies, lots of things are taxed multiple times. This attack on death taxes seems like more of an emotional rationalization than an argument.
In summary, I see a lot of knee jerk, group think "taxes bad" denial on the death tax issue. I think we can rise above it.
I do think that both the living and the dead should pay income taxes and not be allowed to write off "charitable" contributions. Bill Gates may well "contribute" $80 billion or so without ever paying income taxes on that money. Everyone should pay their taxes then they are welcome to contribute/give it away as they see fit.
I'm opposed to most taxation because politicians simply use it (and look for more) to buy votes and set up corporate cronyism. Most never benefits the citizens, but disappears into The Cloud. This happens at so many levels (local, township, state, regional, federal and international) to grease the palms of every politician, many of whom are not elected but appointed by a higher-up (who probably gets a cut).
Who said "If it moves, tax it. If it dies, tax it again." Six billion bucks here, six billion bucks there. It's a mere pittance to them and we honestly have NO IDEA how they spend. We should cut the government in half at every level, especially those guys we didn't vote for, but seem to turn out "regulations" a mile long every few days that cost us more and more to simply do business or take care of our families.
Someone made a list of all the taxes most people pay, and it went on and on and on with many that are hidden or called something else but still a "fee" above and beyond the cost of the whatever. It was sickening.
Very few flower shops are worth as much as the exemption. Farms have special provisions.
mudbug: In the first place, the money that is inherited has already been taxed.
That's not unusual with taxes. Corporations pay taxes out of their revenues, pay employees with those revenues who are taxed, who buy gas which is taxed, the gas station owner then paying corporate tax, etc. Not to mention local taxes.
mudbug: There's also an edge condition where a parent wants to provide for a child who might have difficulty after he's gone such as a handicapped child ...
There is usually an exemption of several million dollars, so that wouldn't be an issue for most people. For most people, Medicaid provides the backstop.
In any case, a consumption tax might be something to consider as an alternative to the income tax. Keep in mind that all taxes have downsides, but government has important functions that require taxes.