Now Bill O'Reilly thinks he knows taxes (the truth about estate taxes)

Monday, June 19, 2006 at 06:10 PM

Bill O'Reilly is....well, no profanity.  But this buffoon of the "no spin zone" fame is one gigantic propagandist, or one monumental moron.  The choice is yours.

Now Bill thinks he knows Taxes.

An annotated excerpt from the loofah loon himself on the subject of estate taxes:

A Taxing Proposition; 06/11/06

One of the goals of the far-left in America is "income redistribution." That is taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the less well off in the form of entitlements, or sometimes direct payments like welfare and food stamps. The problem with that philosophy is that there are relatively few wealthy Americans; less than 10 million of us make more than $100,000 a year, while about 30 million citizens live below the poverty line.  [but gee, Bill, some of those 10 million wealthy people make BILLIONS; nice try to lull readers into focusing on the not-so-outrageous figure of $100,000 instead of the billions]

Thus, the tax burden on the wealthy has to be enormous in order to effectively "redistribute" income. [Total BS; you need to know how much the wealthy make, and you have to know how much the poor need; if the 10 million who make more than $100,000 have average incomes of $1,000,000, and the 30 million below the poverty line need $7,000 each to reach a livable income, then the total NEED is $210 billion and the total income of the wealthy is $10  trillion.  If my math is correct, a 2% tax on "the wealthy" would fund a transfer of $7,000 to each of the 30 million poor.] And one of the primary ways the government seeks to do that is through the estate tax. When rich Americans die, the Feds move in and seize more than half the deceased person's assets over $2 million.  [Really, Bill?  No exemptions?  No pass throughs?  No trust or other devices to escape this?]

One problem: That seizure of private property may be, by definition, "unreasonable." Thus, unconstitutional. [Classic, Bill, just classic.  It "may" be? Meaning it also "may not" be? What about this particular "seizure?  Is it unconstitutional, even though the estate tax has been around for almost a century?  That's a whole lot of elected senators and representatives who must have supported the tax, huh?]
But this is not enough for the far-left. [So now  Teddy Roosevelt and all the other politicians who endorsed the estate tax are "far left," Bill?  Really?]. They want half our  stuff after we die. [OUR?  How many people reading this piece of trash have an estate worth $2 million?] They want to seize private property. This, I believe, is what Karl Marx had in mind. [So now, Mr. Loofah Loon, Teddy Roosevelt and all the other politicians who endorsed the estate tax are Marxists?]. Right, Fidel Castro?

Impressed?  Make a wild guess as to what Mr. Loofah Loon thinks the average IQ of his audience might be.

Want a little honesty about the estate tax?  Here are a few, and I mean a few, of the things that The Brain That Snored left out of his rambling crap:

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proposed a federal inheritance tax, saying, "The man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the State because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government." planning makes the tax virtually voluntary, according to estate tax experts.

Several decades after the passage of the tax, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "Great accumulations of wealth cannot be justified on the basis of personal and family security ... Such inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our government."  

When estate tax repeal proponents moved for what they thought would be an easy repeal of the tax in 2001, a Boston organization called Responsible Wealth organized a group of affluent Americans, including Bill Gates Sr. and Warren Buffett, to announce their opposition to total repeal.

Estate taxes are actually part of the "federal unified transfer tax," which applies to both estates and gifts during life.  If you want to actually understand the basics of how the current estate tax system works, check out the online summary from Commerce Clearing House.

Here's a handy list of the provisions and devices that "makes the tax virtually voluntary" for the rich:

--Up through 2003, there was a a special provision benefiting "qualified family-owned business interests" (QFOBIs), which allowed estates to exclude more than the general minimum estate tax amount.  The end of the QFOBI exclusion is more than made up for by the higher threshhold for the estate tax beginning in 2004 ($1.5 million in 20004, rising to $3.5 million in 2009)

--The "Marital Deduction" which allows anyone to give an unlimited amount of wealth to their spouse tax-free

--Unified Credits, which allow certain amounts (a total of up to $1.5 million for those who die in 2005) in lifetime gifts and transfers at death can be sheltered from the transfer tax regardless of who the transferee is

--Charitable Deductions; gifts of property or money to qualified charities are fully deductible against the gift tax estate tax, depending on whether made during the don'rs life or after the donor's death

--The annual gift tax exclusion, which  allows the transfer, each year, of certain amounts (up to $12,000 per recipient in 2006) without incurring any gift tax liability; these amounts obviously will no longer be part of the estate when the donor dies

--Placing property in a trust will, if the trust meets requirements for transfer of real control over the property, and for irrevocability, remove the property from the grantor's gross estate, while providing significant benefits to the trust beneficiary during the beneficiary's life; if the funds provided are used up during the beneficiary's life, they obviously do not become part even of the beneficiary's estate

--Powers of Appointment, a complex legal concept that allows a person to exercise control over certain property (usually property that has been placed in a trust); the person holding the power gets the use of the property during their life, then can "appoint" someone else--even by will--to take the property, and the property is excluded from the estate of the person who made the appointment

--Provisions for Special Use Valuation allow some property, such as family farms, to be valued not at the "market value," which would reflect the value of the property when put to its "best use," but at the value it has when put to the actual use made of it by the person who is leaving it in his estate.  In other words, farmland may be worth $ 35 million if sold to a developer, yet be valued at only $6 million for estate tax purposes, because that's all it's worth as farm land

--Provisions allowing the estate tax to be paid over a number of years, with interest on the unpaid amounts assessed at a very low rate

So what the hell is the story here?  Well, not surprisingly, it's known as PR.  In this case, PR funded by the very, very rich who would like to keep all the riches, and who would like to save all the time and money they put into minimizing their estate tax liability through all the devices discussed above.

As United for a Fair Economy puts it:

At the heart of the current campaign to abolish the estate tax is a systematic distortion of the facts as to who pays it and who would most benefit from wholesale repeal - allegedly, farmers and small businesspeople. In fact, behind the grassroots image, there operates an entire industry of anti-tax lobbies, think tanks, polling firms, and PR experts. The anti-estate-tax lobby was funded with money from some of America's richest families, including brand names like Gallo (as in wine) and Mars (as in candy).

The lies flow like wine, in other words, like Gallo wine, washing down a few good Mars Bars.  Too bad O'Reilly the Loofah Loon can't come clean on the estate tax without offending the very rich manipulators who manipulated him into a star.