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Group of Millionaires to Trump: Keep Estate Tax

More than 99 percent of the nation's taxpayers currently are exempt from the federal estate tax, slated for elimination under President Donald Trump's tax proposal. (Pixabay)
More than 99 percent of the nation's taxpayers currently are exempt from the federal estate tax, slated for elimination under President Donald Trump's tax proposal. (Pixabay)
May 1, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY – More than 50 multi-millionaires have signed a letter urging President Donald Trump and Congress to abandon their attempts to abolish the federal estate tax, the only tax on inherited wealth in the U.S.

Chuck Collins, heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune and author of the book "Born on Third Base," points out the tax only applies to households with assets of more than $11 million.

He adds the tax was put in place 100 years ago to prevent the kind of inherited aristocracy the nation fought a revolutionary war over.

"In that way, the estate tax is a fundamentally American tax,” he states. “It's really the way in which we protect a level playing field and ensure that too much inequality doesn't sort of upend our democratic system."

Collins says starting in the 1990s, a handful of wealthy families – including Mars, Walton, Gallo and others – invested millions lobbying to end the tax, a move that would save their heirs billions.

Trump once called the tax a "burden on the American worker."

But Collins notes that more than 99 percent of Americans will never be subject to the tax, and is confident the estates that will take a hit can afford it.

Supporters of Trump's proposed tax plan argue lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy will lead to a revived economy and ultimately increase tax revenues.

Collins acknowledges that cutting taxes for the middle class, along with increased wages, can boost the economy, but he says tax breaks for people with millions in the bank don't change their consumer behavior.

"Cutting taxes for multi-millionaires and billionaires actually has very little positive economic impact,” he maintains. “The rest of us have to pick up the slack, and ‘the rest of us’ is the middle class."

Collins says if Trump's claim to a $10 billion net worth is true, eliminating the estate tax would effectively transfer $4 billion from U.S. coffers to his heirs.


Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT