Photo of a mansion.
Is the estate tax sending elderly to their grave? Photo by Geograph

If Congress doesn’t take a stand for the way things have gone in 2010, the estate tax moratorium will end come 2011. This has many estate-holders and kin worried, reports the Associated Press. It’s so bad, says Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis (a Republican), that some of her constituents are looking to pull the plug on life-sustaining medical procedures and treatments.

Hard to keep from getting some estate tax

Rep. Lummis wouldn’t say who the people were that might end up ending their lives early to stop the estate tax from hitting their families, although she did say people with businesses are considering it. The business of ranching in Wyoming is something that many ranchers want to stay away from their government and to go to their families. “If you have spent your whole life building a ranch, and you wanted to pass your estate on to your children, and you were 88-years-old and on dialysis, and the only thing that was keeping you alive was that dialysis, you might make that same decision,” the AP reports Lummis saying.

The wealthy sees most Bush tax cuts benefiting them

Bush era tax cuts effectively buried the 45 percent estate tax (aka the death tax). That was a good time to inherit something from a dead relative. The government had no control over inheritance, wage income, interest, dividends and capital gains. Since 1916, all estates less than $3.5 million, or $7 million for those owned by two people, have been tax exempt, but all estates in 2010 were tax exempt. If the estate tax returns in 2011, the exemption level will be lower – estates less than $1 million will be exempt– and the tax rate will be higher at 55 percent. A tax analyst, Joseph Thorndike, spoke with the Wall Street Journal. He said that going from 0 to 55 percent would be “the largest increase in a major tax that (the U.S. has) ever seen.”

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