Monday, May 15, 2006

Estate Tax Bullshit

An open letter to Jeffrey Birnbaum, WaPo Columnist ("K Street Confidential"):

In today's column, you claim that auto dealer Jack Fitzgerald's chain of auto dealerships "is too large for him to pass easily to his heirs without their being crushed by the estate tax," and "the estate tax has for years forced owners to sell to corporate giants, which often stifles innovation, expansion and good feelings between workers and their bosses."

You substantiate none of these claims.

First, you fail to mention that the estates of people like Fitzgerald can take up to 15 years to pay off the Federal Estate Tax (FET). In 15 years, a profitable business should be able to pay off the tax out of revenues.

Second, you give no figures to explain just how Fitzgerald's heirs will be forced to sell the business under current law, nor do you even indicate that he provided any such numbers to you.

Third, you don't give any for-instances of private businesses that had to be sold in recent years to pay the FET.

Fourth, you don't substantiate your claims about the adverse effects of sales of private businesses to corporations.

You say that Fitzgerald "makes a compelling case against the estate tax on policy grounds." I don't see any case at all. The only compelling thing about this column is the evidence it provides that you're in the tank on this issue.


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