This week, I’m asking readers about some surprising viewpoints on taxes—or, at least, surprising to hear in today’s populist mood against taxation. On Monday, I asked if you side with Warren Buffett. On Tuesday, I asked if you prefer the viewpoints of Wilson, Holmes or Rogers.
Today, do you side with Teddy?
Here’s the news at the moment on taxation: The U.S. Senate passed the latest tax deal by a whopping margin. The House vote will be closer. One big issue is the estate tax. In the Senate bill, the first $5 million of an estate can be passed to one’s heirs without taxation; anything over that is taxed at 35%. Democrats say this gives too much relief to the wealthy.
Do you agree? And would Teddy have agreed?
Is inherited wealth un-American? I don’t mean the inheritance that helps an heir pay for college, start a small business, or buy a home. I mean BIG estates—those that if inherited would mean the recipient would never have to work again. One reason Warren Buffet has pledged so much of his vast fortune to charity is that he feels it’s unhealthy to inherit immense wealth.
Does inheritance sap initiative? Does it lessen the will to achieve? Does inherited wealth undermine national unity by widening the differences between citizens?
Teddy Roosevelt—who used his inherited wealth to pursue a life of public service—felt that huge inheritances were detrimental to democracy. He never advocated economic equality, but felt that large estates should be heavily taxed to keep economic inequality within reasonable bounds.