Brother, Can You Spare A Dime

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Warren Buffet, who just gave away what will ultimately be most of his estimated $44 billion estate, opposes the Republican-led effort to gut the federal estate tax. He says, "I can't think of anything that is more counter to a democracy than dynastic wealth." Buffet, of course, is a self-made man, as are his new partners in philanthropy, Bill and Melinda Gates.

Republicans have been trying to abolish the estate tax since the Reagan years. They call it the "death tax" and talk about "saving the family farm."

What they fail to talk about is the fact that, according to the IRS, only the top 2% of Americans are subject to the estate tax to begin with. Estates of less than $1,500,000 are exempt completely from the law, so the tax affects only to the super-rich, not "the family farm." Furthermore, with proper utilization of the marital deduction in estate planning (which everyone uses), no tax is owed even on the affected estates until the last of the two spouses die.

If the estate tax is gutted, it will leave a hole of $760 billion in the federal budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office, far more than the annual cost of the war.

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