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Fighting to end destructive double taxation

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A Moral Case Against Death Taxes

Posted by Brian Garst on December 16, 2010

Russ Roberts, George Mason University economics professor and CafeHayek blogger, makes the moral case for death tax opposition in the New York Times‘ Room for Debate feature:

…I won’t pretend my dislike for the estate tax is because it hurts capital formation, say, which it certainly might. But that’s not the main reason the estate tax bothers me.

I don’t like the estate tax on moral grounds. It’s wrong for the government to tax people twice, once when they earn the money and once when they give it away, if the giving away is done after death, an arbitrary and unpredictable deadline. It’s wrong for the government to create a tax that benefits tax lawyers and insurance companies for their creativity in structuring tax havens rather than helping to make the world a better place. And it’s wrong to tell the richest Americans that they will be punished for sharing the fruits of their labor or good fortune as they see fit, even if you or I might imagine in moments of hubris and envy that we could spend it so much more wisely.

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