Monday, March 21, 2011

An Entertaining Estate Tax Lecture

In January Michael Graetz delivered the inaugural Lloyd Leva Plaine Distinguished Lecture at the Heckerling Estate Planning Institute. Readers of Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight Over Taxing Inherited Wealth, co-authored by Graetz, may find much of the content familiar. For the rest of us, The Politics and Policy of the Estate Tax—Past, Present and Future, offers an informative, entertaining backgrounder on the temporary (so far) death of the Death Tax.

Graetz introduces us to Pat Soldano, the death-tax opponent and family-office entrepreneur, lobbyists and their wealthy sponsors, and individuals who did or did not die timely deaths.
… Ruth Lily, a well known philanthropist and the sole heiress to the founder of Eli Lily & Co, died on December 30, 2009, so her estate, estimated at more than $1 billion was subject to the tax. Clara Laub, a widow who owned a Fresno, California grape farm worth several million dollars, was diagnosed with advanced cancer in October 2009. She made her grandson tell her every day what day it was. She passed away on New Year’s morning, 2010.
What next? Graetz sees no reduction in the current $5-million exemption or its portability for married couples. Rates are another question. "Most importantly, it would be a mistake to believe that the tax’s opponents have given up on repeal …."

H/T to the Wills, Trusts and Estates Prof for directing me to this lecture in print.

1 comment:

Addison said...

I particularly liked this sentence in the paper: Make no mistake: the death tax repeal effort is a critical piece of an attack on the very
idea of progressive taxation in America.