Taxation in American States and Cities

By Richard T. Ely | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.
TAXATION OF INHERITANCES AND BEQUESTS.

INHERITANCES will be used in this chapter to denote property which comes to one from the estates of decedents by course of law, without a will by former owner, Property of any kind which comes to one by last will or testament, or by gift to take effect after the death of the giver, will be denoted by the word bequest. Bequest has reference to testates and to testate estates; inheritance, to intestate estates and to intestates. This is a distinction by no means universally observed, but precedent is found for it in John Stuart Mill treatise on "Political Economy,"1 and it is a convenient distinction for present purposes.

"The institution of property," says Mill, "when limited to its essential elements, consists in the recognition in each person of a right to the exclusive disposal of what he or she has produced by his or her own exertions, or received, either by gift or fair agreement, without force or fraud, from those who produced it. The foundation of the whole is the fight of producers to what they themselves have produced."2 This includes the right of bequest, but not the right of inheritance, What right have I to property which another produced and which he did not leave to me by will? I have only such legal rights as the law gives me. I have no moral rights exceeding those which the law may give me, unless I had

____________________
1
Book II., Chapter II.
2
Mill, Book II., Chapter II., § 1. All references are to the unabridged edition.

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