As President Obama and congressional Republicans wrangle over raising income tax rates on the richest Americans, a group of wealthy Americans is pushing an estate tax even more than that advocated by Obama.
The group–which includes Bill Gates Sr., Disney heir Abigail Disney, former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, and others — want a tax on inherited wealthy that begins at 45 percent and rises from there, with an exemption on up to the first $4 million of inheritance. The president’s proposal would be a flat 45 percent rate, the group says.
The group, going to by the name Responsible Wealth, is seeking meetings with White House officials and from Democratic senators in order to carry the proposal forward as legislation, representatives from the organization say.
” … A substantial estate tax, along the lines of being discussed here, can contribute substantially and constructively, to our economic well-being and our society. And a weaker estate tax would be counterproductive, both economically and socially,” Rubin says. “When you look at the economy, a substantial estate tax would provide revenue at a time when our federal government badly needs additional revenues to fund a sound fiscal regime, to fund public investment, and provide economic security. I think a key point here is that an estate tax will do this, without any meaningful adverse economic effect.”
Without a higher estate tax, less-well-off Americans will be left paying more in taxes, says John Bogle, founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group, a large financial services firm.
“Look, I’m just an entrepreneur who created a remarkably successful business–which, by the way, I want to emphasize–I did not build alone,” Bogle adds. “I recognize the roles of our government, our shared values, and the institutions of our society in helping to make that possible. So I’m more than happy from my own estate to pay my fair share –our fair share–of taxes on the wealth that I’ve been fortunate to accumulate over a long period of years.”
Responsible Wealth’s proposal would establish a rate of 45 percent as a floor for the estate tax, with increases in the rate as the wealth of an estate increases, representatives say. “Obama’s proposal leaves too much on the table,” says Dr. Richard Rockefeller, an heir to the Rockefeller fortune.