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Nov 11, 2008

Warren Buffett and the Estate Tax

11/11/08 - Blog.Oup.com by Edward Zelinsky   --> Source
Via TaxProf Blog

[edited] Buffett has said that inherited wealth is a danger to democracy and that the rich have a moral obligation to give back to society. Buffett outspokenly supports keeping the federal estate tax, and he has complained that his federal income tax rate is lower than his secretary’s. He is an acquisitive investor who believes in success, capitalism, and the marketplace. Bill Gates shares these views about capitalism, inherited wealth, and the estate tax.

Each of Buffett and Gates are contributing the bulk of his assets to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, using meticulous legal means to avoid federal tax on the contribution. They could more easily make these contributions so that federal tax would apply, delivering less to the foundation and more to the government.

I am not surprised that Buffet and Gates want to control every dollar of their wealth, both in life and in death. Each earned it, and should consider it his own to do with as he pleases. This is what all people want to do with what they produce.

Their statements about keeping the estate tax are hypocritical, based on the above post. Here is the lesson for me. Reject public policy recommendations that take wealth and freedom from you. Our leaders don't apply those recommendations to themselves. They are not better than you are as creatures on this earth. Their abilities don't give them the right to make policies that limit your life, but not their own. Demand to be governed as they govern themselves.

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