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Postwar Taxation and Economic Progress

By Harold M. Groves | Go to book overview
of two-thirds or three-fourths of the estate. A differential of more than 30 or 40 years would result in a weighting of more than 100 per cent or an increase in the base over the amount actually transferred. The application of the age differential to the gift tax should present no special problems. If it is thought that the heir who is of the same age as the donor should pay some tax because of the former's probable tendency to spend the substance of an estate, this could be allowed for in the weighting. Exemptions to allow for the time factor would be in addition to those allowed to care for dependent relatives. This fundamental reform might avoid the necessity of other reforms, such as those connected with life estates and powers of appointment. Some new and bold thinking in the field of death taxation is definitely needed.
CONCLUSION
It has long been recognized that, in spite of very stiff rates and occasional onerous burdens imposed by the federal estate-tax law, the results of the death-tax system are fiscally disappointing and its impact highly capricious. The following have been recommended to increase the effectiveness and improve the economic effects of the death tax:
1. The estate tax should be integrated with the gift tax. Capricious and undesirable results follow from the fact that, for example, the owner of an estate of $100,000 can make a 90 per cent saving by disposing of his estate through inter vivos gifts.
2. Notorious loopholes, particularly those relating to the disposition of property by means of trusts, powers of appointment, and life-estate-remainders, are in urgent need of repair.
3. A period after death (3 years), during which the executor of the estate may choose the time for valuation of its assets, should be allowed.
4. Exemption of $60,000 at a time of urgent revenue need is, to say the least, unwise.1
____________________
1

Of course, both the social and the personal interest in providing for the

-282-

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