Friday, November 6, 2020
Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents Death and Taxes: A Libertarian Reappraisal virtually at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Shu-Yi Oei, Jim Repetti, and Diane Ring:
Libertarian opposition to “death taxes” is a polestar in discussions of justice and taxation. Theorists ranging from Milton Friedman to Richard Epstein to Loren Lomasky have vociferously rejected such taxes, arguing that inheritance taxes “run roughshod over the deceased’s interest,” are “an especially cruel injury,” and should be considered an “expropriation” instead of a tax. This Article challenges these conclusions, arguing that libertarians overstate the case against taxing gifts and bequests. At minimum, even minimal state libertarianism mandates that the income tax should treat gifts and bequests like any other property right or item of income.
And while libertarianism does not support a donor-focused estate tax of the type imposed in the United States today, classical liberal principles support imposing recipient-focused inheritance taxes in limited circumstances.