A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 06, 2009
Death Tax (estate tax)

The term “death tax” has been used for “estate tax,” “inheritance tax” and “succession tax.” The estate of a person who died is taxed. “Death tax” became a popular political term since 1997, when Republicans in the U.S. Congress sought to repeal federal estate taxes. One rallying cry for the repeal has been “No taxation without respiration!”

“Death tax” is cited in print since at least 1892.


Wikipedia: Estate tax in the United States
The estate tax in the United States is a tax imposed on the transfer of the “taxable estate” of a deceased person, whether such property is transferred via a will or according to the state laws of intestacy. The estate tax is one part of the Unified Gift and Estate Tax system in the United States. The other part of the system, the gift tax, imposes a tax on transfers of property during a person’s life; the gift tax prevents avoidance of the estate tax should a person want to give away his/her estate.

In addition to the federal government, many states also impose an estate tax, with the state version called either an estate tax or an inheritance tax. Since the 1990s, opponents of the tax have used the pejorative term “death tax.” The equivalent tax in the United Kingdom has always been referred to as “death duties.”

If an asset is left to a spouse or a charitable organization, the tax usually does not apply. The tax is imposed on other transfers of property made as an incident of the death of the owner, such as a transfer of property from an intestate estate or trust, or the payment of certain life insurance benefits or financial account sums to beneficiaries.
(...)
The “Death Tax” neologism
Many opponents of the estate tax refer to it as the “death tax” in their public discourse partly because a death must occur before any tax on the deceased’s assets can be realized and also because the tax rate is determined by the value of the deceased’s assets rather than the amount each inheritor receives. Neither the number of inheritors nor the size of each inheritor’s portion factors into the calculations for rate of the Estate Tax.

This is an imprecise use of the term “death tax,” which has been used since the 19th century to refer to all the taxes—estate, inheritance, succession and otherwise—that may come due upon a death. his also is how the phrase “death taxes” is used in the Internal Revenue Code.

The political use of “death tax” as a synonym for “estate tax” was popularized by Jack Faris of the National Federation of Independent Business during the Speakership of Newt Gingrich. It has been widely but inaccurately attributed to Republican pollster Frank Luntz. In a memo, Luntz wrote that the term “death tax” “kindled voter resentment in a way that ‘inheritance tax’ and ‘estate tax’ do not.”.

Linguist George Lakoff alleges the phrase is a deliberate and carefully calculated neologism which is used as a propaganda tactic to aid in the repeal of estate taxes. However the use of “death tax” rather than “estate tax” in the wording of questions in the 2002 National Election Survey increased support for estate tax repeal by only a few percentage points.

16 May 1892, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), “A Graduated Death Tax,” pg. 4, col. 3:
This article goes on to declare that, the fact that he made no public bequest, has done very much to forward the determination in the Old World to pass a law which shall levy death duties on the estates of rich men; it even goes so far as to say that the next Parliament will not expire before an attempt has been made to deal with the question of death duties; that England will probably have a graduated death tax sooner than a graduated income tax.

Chronicling America
14 June 1894, San Francisco (CA) Morning Call, pg. 6, col. 5:
Wealthy Americans who think England offers them freedom from taxation will be interested in the knowledge that the new English tax law provides for levying what is known as “the death tax” on the property of foreigners, whether owned in England or elsewhere. The inequality of this tax is obvious. Americans can avoid it by living at home.—New York Mail and Express.

18 January 1898, New York (NY) Times, “Our Bad Tax Laws,” pg. 6:
Mr. ROBERTS also, like other advocates of the graded, or progressive inheritance tax, recommends it as an infallible method for enabling the State to get its just dues from a man who has all his life escaped personal taxes. This death tax would be a compensation, he thinks, for the relief from taxation granted during the life of the owner. This is not the case at all. The man who has escaped taxation is dead. He is beyond the reach of the tax gatherer and has enjoyed all his life an estate undiminished by the levies of that functionary. It is the right of succession that is taxed, a right enjoyed by the family and heirs. They must pay the tax, and oftentimes it would fall upon them when they were least able to bear it, just as the one who had gathered the estate together and had the power to add to it and support them had been taken away.

14 May 1900, Grand Rapids (MI) Press, pg. 1:
DEATH TAX IS VALID
Supreme Court Decides That the Inheritance Law Is Constitutional.
Washington, May 14.—The Supreme court today decided that the inheritance tax law is constitutional and valid, but held that it applies to the amount of the legacy, not of the estate as a whole.

21 February 1925, New York (NY) Times, “Supports Coolidge on Inheritance Tax,” pg. 15:
Discussing the future of estate and inheritance taxes, Charles J. Bullock, Professor of Economics at harvard, told the delegates that if the revenue was not absolutely needed by the Government, the Federal Inheritance Tax law should be repealed at the earliest possible moment. He insisted that the conference should place itself unreservedly on record as upholding the doctrine that the field of death taxes should be occupied exclusively by the States.

OCLC WorldCat record
The federal death tax, with a chapter on the federal gift tax,
Author: John Edward Hughes
Publisher: Chicago, Callaghan and Co., 1938.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Nevada and the death tax
Author: Joseph R Seifers
Publisher: 1975.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The Death Tax: Estate taxes: how they may affect you and how you can reduce their impact
Author: Southern forestry conference and annual meeting; 56th (1997; May Williamsburg; VA); H I Apolinsky
Edition/Format: Chapter : English
Database: PapersFirst

OCLC WorldCat record
‘Death tax’ repeal urged
Publisher: [Solon, Ohio, etc., Huebner Publications, inc.]
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Tooling & production. 63, no. 3, (1997): 8
Database: ArticleFirst

OCLC WorldCat record
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS: Is the end of the ‘death’ tax near?
Publisher: [Chicago, IL : Maclean Hunter Pub. Corp., c1982-
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: American printer. 219, no. 6, (1997): 159
Database: ArticleFirst

OCLC WorldCat record
Grave robbers : the moral case against the death tax
Author: Edward J McCaffery; Cato Institute.
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : Cato Institute, 1999.
Series: Policy analysis (Cato Institute), no. 353. 
Edition/Format: Book : English

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 06, 2009 • Permalink