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Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Chutzpah is Breathtaking

The brilliant Digby points us to this article in the WSJ by Laura Saunders. Digby is more polite than me and says she doesn't know what to say. I guess my momma didn't bring me up right because this kind of noblesse oblige sickens me.

Here's some of Saunders wisdom:
Nothing's certain except death and taxes -- but a temporary lapse in the estate tax is causing a few wealthy Americans to try to bend those rules.

Starting Jan. 1, the estate tax -- which can erase nearly half of a wealthy person's estate -- goes away for a year. For families facing end-of-life decisions in the immediate future, the change is making one of life's most trying episodes only more complex.

On Jan. 1, the one-year halt to the estate tax begins. And never before has so much money hinged on the time of death, WSJ's Laura Saunders reports in a News Hub extra.
.
"I have two clients on life support, and the families are struggling with whether to continue heroic measures for a few more days," says Joshua Rubenstein, a lawyer with Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in New York. "Do they want to live for the rest of their lives having made serious medical decisions based on estate-tax law?"

Currently, the tax applies to about 5,500 taxpayers a year. So, on average, at least 15 people die every day whose estates would benefit from the the tax's lapse.

The macabre situation stems from 2001, when Congress raised estate-tax exemptions, culminating with the tax's disappearance next year. However, due to budget constraints, lawmakers didn't make the change permanent. So the estate tax is due to come back to life in 2011 -- at a higher rate and lower exemption.

To make it easier on their heirs, some clients are putting provisions into their health-care proxies allowing whoever makes end-of-life medical decisions to consider changes in estate-tax law.

So what she's saying is these folks would rather die than pay taxes. Where's the equal concern for those folks at the bottom of the economic ladder, without estates to pay for their end of life care?

Here's some more:
Under current laws in effect until the end of this year, the size of the exemption is $3.5 million per individual or up to $7 million per couple. The tax is slated to disappear entirely on Jan 1.

But estate planning in 2010 will be complicated by a new twist: a complex tax on capital gains that will affect a broader swath of taxpayers. The estate tax is scheduled to return in 2011 at a 55% rate with an exemption of slightly more than $1 million.

The looming lapse of the estate tax is presenting some families with unprecedented ethical quandaries.

Ethical quandary!?? Do I have a right to be in an ethical quandary about my income taxes? The chutzpah of this entitled bunch is breathtaking. Am I supposed to feel sorry for a bunch of rich people who can't figure out any other way to avoid taxes other than killing themselves? I should pay more tax so these entitled posers can avoid taxes?!!

GAWD! It's enough to make me join Billionaires for Wealthcare just so I can do end-of-life counseling for these poor Ritchie Riches!

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