For some Americans, tax deal feels like working hard just to 'give it away'
December 16th, 2010
11:25 AM ET

For some Americans, tax deal feels like working hard just to 'give it away'

Ed Sands, owner of a big wine and liquor store in Washington, D.C., is wondering what the House of Representatives will do to the new estate tax provisions in the compromise deal worked out between the White House and Republicans.

Some House Democrats are howling for the wealthy to pay more, targeting the estate tax for changes.

"I've spent 45 years building a business; and I wouldn't like to give it away in taxes," Sands said.

Whittled down to nothing over the life of the Bush tax cuts, the estate tax would revive at a rate of 35%, but with the first $5 million of an individual's estate exempted. Liberals in the House will likely push to lower the exemption, while raising the tax rate. On the Senate side, Republicans vow to scrap the deal if the House makes those kinds of changes. The White House is pushing hard to keep the compromise intact.

But for people like Sands, the tax deal shouldn't be about the bickering, it should be about hardworking Americans "feel[ing] like we've accomplished a lot."

"And I would very much like to see it remain in the family," he said.

CNN's Bob Costantini reports on Sands story.

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soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. TeeJay

    Sorry, but you can't talk me into feeling sorry for the owners of $500k+ homes in the estate tax issue. Many of those homes are entirely too large for the size family living there. Do you really think you need 5000 sq ft or more for a family of 3? Get real. Don't even go there. What I'm saying is, a 35% to 55% tax rate, no matter the amount of exemption, is outrageous. If govt wants to lower the exemption, then lower the tax rate. That's why I say a 500K exemption, but only a 5% rate on anything over.

    December 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy

    @helenhull102951: That is an entirely different subject. We're talking about estate taxes, not welfare and the group you perceive as the "ones who need to go". Stay on topic.

    December 16, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. internet

    i'm poor. anyone who feels they owe me help can keep the cash. id rather be poor than accept charity from people who are just doing it to feel better about themselves

    December 17, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. River

    Has anyone realized that perhpas the claims drop because people have no more benefits allowed? Duh!!!

    December 17, 2010 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. hsr0601

    "I oppose borrowing nearly $1 trillion over the next two years when we will pay $438 billion in interest on the national debt this year alone", REP. PETE VISCLOSKY claims.

    The estate tax, first enacted in 1916, was never intended to be simply a device for raising revenue. Rather, it was meant to address the phenomenon of a small number of Americans controlling large amounts of the country’s wealth — which was considered a national problem.

    I think we all know that the advanced countries are marked by the strong base of middle class, which ensures persistent economic vitality.
    But Americans seem little inclined to resist wealth concentration. Efforts to impose taxes geared to the wealthy are lambasted as promoting class warfare.

    Reacting to Republican opposition United for a Fair Economy, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization, issued the following statement:

    "In the last decade, we've seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich, and tax policy has been a big driver of that," said Mike Lapham, director of UFE's Responsible Wealth project. "Extending the Bush tax cuts would give the average millionaire over $100,000 per year. Extending those tax cuts will do nothing to create jobs. Business owners make decisions about hiring based on demand, not based on their tax rate. By contrast, when middle class people get tax cuts, they spend it and that creates jobs. Republicans are blocking tax cuts for the real job creators – 98% of Americans, the vast middle class – in order to extend extra tax giveaways to the rich."

    And added, "Republicans claim they are for fiscal responsibility, but they would like to repeal the estate tax, at a cost of $700 billion over 10 years. Republicans aren't concerned about growing wealth inequality, even though it hurts our country's economic growth and health, and is now the worst it's been since 1928. They opposed Sen. Baucus' bill, which sets the estate tax exemption at $7 million for a married couple, with a 45% rate on amounts above that. A stronger estate tax, with higher rates on billionaires, would do more to curb that wealth inequality and bring more broadly shared prosperity to all."

    December 17, 2010 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. really?

    I can see the headlines on January 2nd: "republicians irrate at Obama for adding 900 billion to deficit"

    December 17, 2010 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. Loudawn

    Listen, nobody would be rich today if it weren't for the welfare system. In the great depression, just about EVERYONE was broke... The government saved our asses, and they're doing it again now, only before it gets to that point. Those who are greedily rich, and don't give to the poor, are why we are at this point anyway. And seriously, selling Liquor to drunks is nothing compared to a blue collar worker, working for low wages... or someone living on welfare, whether they deserve it or not. Yes there are people who take advantage, and lie about their income (or lack thereof) but there are also people who need it. What do you suggest we do? Line em up and shoot em? That's humane. May as well if you don't want to feed them.

    December 17, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Loudawn

    Oh, and one more thing... The greedy liars are at both ends and through the middle... People take advantage of whatever system they are working, whether it be the tax system, or the welfare system, whether it be lobbying congress for funding, or stealing investors money in a hedge fund... If everyone just did the right thing, we'd not be here, but that will never happen.

    December 17, 2010 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Robert

    Under the 2010 tax structure, a friend of the family who inherited several hundred million dollars from her grandfather's estate this year pays no inheritance tax, simply adding to the massive capital base she and her children already live from without doing any work - and they pay a 15% marginal tax on the millions a year they receive from long term investments.

    My partner and I, on the other hand, pay over twice that rate of tax on the comparatively measly amount we have to work for, 50 weeks of the year.

    The Bush tax structure is REALLY appealing if you live from investing large amounts of inherited wealth.

    Here's to the New Guilded Age, as the conservative think tanks were proclaiming a few years ago. Meanwhile, the other 98% of us are living through the New Depression.

    December 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
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