I despise the death tax. It should be abolished.
My main objection is that it is immoral. If a person earns money, pays tax on the money, and then responsibly saves and invests the money (which generally requires paying another layer of tax), it is reprehensible that politicians want to tax the money yet again simply because the person dies.
But I’m also an economist, so I don’t like the tax because it is the most pernicious form of double taxation. The levy not only drains capital from the private sector, it also discourages the building and creating of wealth in the first place, while also lining the pockets of accountants and tax lawyers.
None of that is good for those of us who will never have enough money to get hit by the tax.
The only silver lining to this dark cloud is that we get very interesting stories of what people are willing to do to escape this unfair and destructive levy.
Jeanne Calment’s apparent longevity turned her into a global celebrity before she died at the age of 122 years and 164 days in 1997. However, that age is being challenged… Yuri Deigin, a genealogist, claims that Mrs Calment actually died in 1934 and that her daughter, Yvonne, usurped her identity… The genealogist said that Mrs Calment, born in 1875, and Fernand, her husband, were the joint owners of a department store in Arles, in Provence. If Mrs Calment’s death had been registered, Mr Calment would have had to pay inheritance tax of up to 38 per cent on his wife’s half of the business. …Mr Deigin said that Mr Calment avoided the bill by telling officials that it was his daughter who had died. The daughter then passed herself off as her mother for the rest of her life.
Not everyone accepts Mr. Deigin’s analysis and it’s possible that will be genetic testing of Mrs. Calment’s remains.
For what it’s worth, I’m guessing the story is accurate. We already have lots of evidence that people will take extraordinary steps to protect family funds from this additional layer of tax.
- Straight men will marry each other.
- Gay men will adopt their lovers.
- People will live longer to escape the tax.
- People will die earlier to escape the tax.
Sadly, I don’t have to worry about the death tax. But if I did, I would do everything in my power to make sure my kids got my money rather than the despicable people in Washington.
So I admire Mrs. Calment. Yes, she broke the law, but that doesn’t bother me when the law is unjust.