$24B from estate taxes – ‘Important stream of income’

Estate taxes — resented by wealthy Americans and under attack by Republicans in Congress – provide an important stream of income for government and one of the few protections in the U.S. from deepening economic divisions. 

That’s the opinion of the Christian Science Monitor, which says in an editorial that while generating $24 billion for Washington in 1998, estate taxes applied to only 2 percent of individuals who died that year. 

As the economic boom pushes more Americans into higher tax brackets, the Monitor says, estate tax revenues will soar – and are expected to reach $331 billion in the decade through 2008.

In addition to providing major revenues, estate taxes prompt individuals to create charitable foundations and limit the establishment of “aristocracies of wealth,” Tom Field, publisher of Tax Notes, told the Monitor.

A supporter of estate taxes, Field advocates raising the bar of eligible estates to $15 million so that small businesses can no longer complain they are prevented from donating their life work to their children, the Monitor says.

A complete abolition of estate taxes would be too costly for Congress and would deepen economic divisions in this country, the Monitor says.

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