Help for Struggling Millionaires is on the Way

Photo by Timothy Krause | CC BY 2.0

It isn’t easy being a millionaire these days, especially if you’ve got less than $20 million. Fortunately, Congress is watching out for you.

Yes, the Republican tax cut bonanza targets lower end millionaires for special relief. Now those struggling to scrape by with $15 million or $20 million can breathe more easily. And even lowly billionaires will be able to keep more of their wealth.

Why? Because Congress just increased the amount of wealth exempted by the estate tax, our nation’s only levy on inherited wealth.

In the bad old days, a family had to have $11 million in wealth before they were subject to the tax. This exempted the 99.8 percent of undisciplined taxpayers who, in the words of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, had squandered their wealth on “booze, women, and movies.”

Now no family with less than $22 million will pay it (or individuals with less than $10.9 million). This gift to “grateful heirs” will cost $83 billion over the next decade.

Gutting the estate tax is a bad idea — it raises substantial revenue from those with the greatest capacity to pay. Even in a weakened state, it would have raised over $260 billion over the next decade.

The estate tax was established a century ago during the first Gilded Age, a period of grotesque inequality. Champions of establishing a tax on inherited wealth included President Theodore Roosevelt and industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who viewed it as a brake on the concentration…

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