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Tax My Inheritance, Millionaires Tell Trump

President Trump has proposed eliminating the estate tax, currently paid by less than 1 percent of households. (Maklay62/Pixabay)
President Trump has proposed eliminating the estate tax, currently paid by less than 1 percent of households. (Maklay62/Pixabay)
May 2, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. – More than 50 multi-millionaires have signed a letter urging President 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," says the tax only applies to households with assets of more than $11 million. He adds the tax was put in place a hundred 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 says. "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."

He 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 adds. "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 $four billion from U.S. coffers to his heirs.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND