TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Proposed 65% Estate Tax Rate Causes Dilbert Creator Scott Adams To Switch His Endorsement To Trump

TrumpFollowing up on Friday's post, Hillary Clinton Proposes Raising Estate Tax Rate From 40% To 65%:  Dilbert.com, Why I Switched My Endorsement from Clinton to Trump:

As most of you know, I had been endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, for my personal safety, because I live in California. It isn’t safe to be a Trump supporter where I live. And it’s bad for business too. But recently I switched my endorsement to Trump, and I owe you an explanation. So here it goes.

Clinton proposed a new top Estate Tax of 65% on people with net worth over $500 million. Her website goes to great length to obscure the actual policy details, including the fact that taxes would increase on lower value estates as well. See the total lack of transparency here, where the text simply refers to going back to 2009 rates. It is clear that the intent of the page is to mislead, not inform.

So don’t fall for the claim that Clinton has plenty of policy details on her website.

She does, but it is organized to mislead, not to inform. That’s far worse than having no details. Trump Plan Raises Taxes For Millions Of Low- And Middle-Income Families https://goo.gl/rBTg30The bottom line is that under Clinton’s plan, estate taxes would be higher for anyone with estates over $5 million(ish). I call this a confiscation tax because income taxes have already been paid on this money. In my case, a dollar I earn today will be taxed at about 50% by various government entities, collectively. With Clinton’s plan, my remaining 50 cents will be taxed again at 50% when I die. So the government would take 75% of my earnings from now on.

Yes, I can do clever things with trusts to avoid estate taxes. But that is just welfare for lawyers. If the impact of the estate tax is nothing but higher fees for my attorney, and hassle for me, that isn’t good news either.

You can argue whether an estate tax is fair or unfair, but fairness is an argument for idiots and children. Fairness isn’t an objective quality of the universe. I oppose the estate tax because I was born to modest means and worked 7-days a week for most of my life to be in my current position. (I’m working today, Sunday, as per usual.) And I don’t want to give 75% of my earnings to the government. (Would you?)

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/09/hillary-clintons-65-estate-tax-rate-causes-dilbert-creator-scott-adams-to-switch-his-endorsement-to-.html

Political News, Tax | Permalink

Comments

Rich man thinks keeping his money is the most important issue for the country. Also, rain is wet. Yawn.

Posted by: Taxman | Sep 27, 2016 5:22:01 AM

He was half-joking when he said he backed Clinton. He said he did it for his own personal safety, because he lived in California (the "tolerant" left).

It's amazing to be taxed at 50% while you're alive, then 65% when you die (at just the federal level when you die).

Posted by: Anon | Sep 27, 2016 7:57:45 AM

What's unclear about this statement: "And she will go further than that for estates valued in the tens and hundreds of millions, with higher rates as values rise, up to a 65% rate on estates valued at over $1 billion per couple" Sounds pretty clear & straightforward ... I can understand that some people don't like it ... but to say it's misleading or not clear is clearly wrong.

Posted by: TH | Sep 27, 2016 8:14:31 AM

Lefty thinks taking most of another guy's dough proves his own patriotism. Bear, woods, whatever.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Sep 27, 2016 12:53:26 PM

The rich find it tragic that they can pass on _only_ $500 million to heirs without triggering high taxes. Cue violins.

Posted by: K | Sep 27, 2016 6:30:16 PM

What is the purpose of mankind? To toil for the government or for one's own dreams?

Posted by: TexEcon | Sep 27, 2016 11:26:00 PM

"Yes, I can do clever things with trusts to avoid estate taxes. But that is just welfare for lawyers. If the impact of the estate tax is nothing but higher fees for my attorney, and hassle for me, that isn’t good news either."

I suspect most of the opposition here to doing away with this horrible tax can be encapsulated in this comment. One way or the other, far too many of you make your living by feeding on other people's wealth.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Sep 28, 2016 6:25:26 AM

Can't help but wonder about how those who argue for repeal of the estate tax deal with the camel passing through the eye of a needle.

Posted by: William J. Brown | Sep 28, 2016 9:27:25 AM

@DS: Accusing others of unprincipled greed is not a winning line of argument. The estate tax is one of the most stable components of tax law. One can be forgiven for a presumption that it will continue indefinitely in its current form.

Posted by: AMT buff | Sep 28, 2016 1:36:32 PM

So the best that can be said is the estate tax is consistently wrong?

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Sep 29, 2016 1:08:49 AM

So many vultures waiting around to eat off of someone else's corpse (estate), because (1) they can, and (2) a greedy government wants "it's" share. Why anyone thinks they have a claim on another family's wealth merely because someone in that family dies, is something I'll never comprehend. It's justification of theft, by governmentally approved means.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Sep 29, 2016 4:41:15 AM

@Dale,

A good percentage of our founders were in favor of mechanisms that operated like estate taxes so as to prevent an idle aristocracy from taking hold in the US - one of their greatest fears. See Thomas Jefferson and the concept of "ground rents," for example.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 29, 2016 7:30:47 AM

@Unemployed Northeasterner Well, guess what. They failed and we have an "idle" class, but it wasn't because of estate taxes or lack thereof, it was because we have a ruler-elite aristocracy that infects government, finance, and media in an incestuous triumvirate of self-idolizing cockiness that thumbs it's collective noses at average people trying to make their way under the twisted, warped system the ruler-elites created.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Sep 30, 2016 4:42:42 AM

@ rural, right on, bro. The differences between the bi-coastal economy and flyover country are stunning.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Sep 30, 2016 8:45:02 AM