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Elana Levin

Repealing the Paris Hilton Tax? Just Say No to Dynasties

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One of the hottest political issues for political commentators and pundits of all stripes was the Estate Tax Repeal Amendment of 2007. What could be a more clear-cut example of a policy that only benefits the very richest of the very richest-- people whose incomes are at the top echelons in the world? Less than one percent of Americans will ever pay the "Paris Hilton Tax,” and contrary to what you may have heard pundits say, no one has ever lost a family farm because of it.

Billionaires in their right minds like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates’ father tried to raise awareness that the Estate Tax really did only target the richest people. They wrote op-eds arguing the estate tax is key to preventing dynastic wealth and promoting social mobility.

So why did so many elected officials and conservative talking heads rail against the so-called "death tax"? In fact there has been a whole astroturf "movement" to repeal the estate tax that, according to The Christian Science Monitor, is actually a campaign funded by 18 billionaire families looking out for their own exclusive interests.

As DMI explains in

"abolishing the estate tax, this amendment would deprive the public of hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue. In effect, estate tax repeal shifts more of the cost of public services onto middle-class and aspiring middle-class families, allowing accumulated wealth to be passed on for generations while obliging those who work for their money to either pick up a bigger share of the tax bill, or suffer cuts in services essential to middle-class families and communities."

Ironically this attempt to repeal the Paris Hilton Tax was an amendment to a bill to raise the minimum wage. According to DMI Fellow Ezekiel Edwards, the message behind this amendment is " If You Get $2 More An Hour, We Get $5 Million Tax-Free."

Unfortunately for Hilton, but fortunately for the rest of us the amendment failed in March of 07.

“While Congress decisively rejected this amendment, well-funded opposition to the estate tax ensures that efforts to abolish it will continue to crop up year after year. For this reason, legislators should not only oppose this legislation but reclaim the debate about the so-called “death tax” from wealthy interests bent on its elimination. While in reality 99 percent of Americans will never pay any estate tax, polls suggest about half of Americans nevertheless believes that “most families have to pay the federal estate tax someone dies.” The public needs to be more educated about the reality of the estate tax and its role in our economy.“

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Posted at 6:54 AM, Oct 30, 2007 in Progressive Agenda | Tax Policy |
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