Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The Price of Death (in 2010)

Perhaps we should expect some untimely deaths among the rich this month. This is the last month they are likely to get away with it tax-free. The tax-cut bill passed by the Bush administration in 2001 mandated that the estate tax disappear in 2010, only to be restores next year at a 55 percent rate on estates above $1 million. This means that for every billionaire that dies this year, the Internal Revenue Service will pay a high price in lost revenue.

George Steinbrenner, who owned the Yankees, died this year leaving an estate of $1.5 billion. Janet Morse Cargill left behind a $1.6 billion fortune. Texas pipeline magnate Dan Duncan died with a net worth of $9.8 billion, and Walter Shorenstein of California real estate money had a $1.1 billion estate. Some lawyers estimated that these deaths cost the government $6.5 billion in foregone taxes.

I thank  Freakonomics for the pointer.

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