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Death and Taxes

The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:  If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it.  And if it stops moving, subsidize it.  ~Ronald Reagan

Two things people claim are a certainty –death and taxes.   Let me start with a disclaimer — I am not an expert on taxes (or death), and welcome comments by anyone who can help me out.  Here is the question/problem –What is the justification for having different income levels paying a different percentage of tax and why should your estate have to pay taxes on what you made (and probably paid taxes on) while you were alive?  How is that fair?  If I and three buddies go into a store and each get a soda which cost a dollar why should I pay $1, while my buddies pay $1.25, $1.40 and one actually gets it free because of a rebate.  It’s the same soda, we are all getting the same thing for our money, how is that different than paying more based upon how much you make?  The person that makes more than me isn’t getting any greater benefit from the government and the person paying less isn’t getting any less so why the difference?  We elect representatives who all seem to say the same thing, we need to change the tax structure, etc., etc.   Then why haven’t they done it?  Why are we paying billions of dollars to bail out companies, fund “art” exhibits that show Jesus covered in ants and other pork barrel projects which continue to increase our debt?  Why is it ok for “our” representatives to spend our money on things which not only do I not want or need, but am morally opposed to?  Where are our representatives when these appropriations are being made, why are they not taking a stand then and there rather than telling me I will be fighting to stop this wasteful spending, etc.  If all of those elected officials that tell us they will do something actually did it then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.  How can it be that almost everyone of them say they do not support x,y or z, but then apparently by some miracle something gets passed which they did not approve.  Here is a suggestion – stop talking — start doing.  If you are going to pass a law make it mandatory that it impacts you, the congress and senate in the exact same manner as it will impact those you represent.  Do away with your private health care, retirement fund, travel allowances, etc. and make do with the same things you believe are good enough for the rest of us.  I want you to explain to me how a graduated tax structure makes any logical sense (other than to provide you with more money to spend on things I don’t want and to dole out to your friends and contributors) and explain to me why the government needs to tax a person their entire life and when they die tax their estate.  What benefit is that person getting from the government at that point? They are dead.  There is no benefit to them and they are no burden on the government.  What is the justification to tax the estate?  I realize I am just a small town country lawyer, but I could really use some enlightenment here.  I welcome answers.  Real answers, not just “I hear you and I with your continued support we will make these changes” speech. How about forwarding this to all those in congress and the senate and let them answer these questions.   These should be easy answers for them as they constantly vote on tax issues.   I assume they would be proud of how they vote and why they voted the way they did, so why not have them answer the questions and post their answers for everyone to see.   If they agree or disagree with a graduated tax system they can explain the benefit of their position to us.  If they agree or disagree with an estate tax they can explain the benefit of their position to us.  I know some of them will say I fought against it but lost the vote, but put me back in there and we will get them next time.  How about this – put down in writing what you actually believe, stand by it, do what’s right and let the rest take care of itself. But like I said in the beginning what do I know — I am no expert and just a small town country lawyer, so help me out with some explanations here.

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Categories: Business Disputes
  1. December 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Cost/benefit analysis on the gov.? To quote Bob Dylan: “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”

    Politicians that get elected that really want to and do serve the common good or the public interest are more rare than albinoes. And, it is exacerbated by PACS and other special interests and their money.

    Think about what was spent on the recent midterm elections. Beyond, eye-popping, mind-blowing. Truly unbelievable.

    When I contemplate the true cost of our democratic process, paid for by our veterans, our Congress is sickening.

    I moved from the Dallas area and used to support Dick Armey, a big flat taxer, even though he was not my representative. I gave him money, but could not vote for him. Remember the contract with America? I asked his office for a copy. I might as well have requested access to classified documents. But he continued to urgently solicit my contributions. Armey, like most of the rest, was all talk. Very little action. What have our Senators done for us lately? Go back further than the last 2 years. Let’s say since Phil Gramm retired. Sad. Cornyn was a pretty good AG and cleaned up quite a mess, but maybe Senator is the Peter Principle at work.

    Canada is a socialist system, onerous to bear. But once you are taxed, that’s it. Leave or die, you get to keep whatever is left over, and leave it to your heirs and beneficiaries.

  2. Kip
    December 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I’d like to make you a business offer.

    Seriously. This is a real offer. In fact, you really can’t turn me down, as you’ll come to understand in a moment…

    Here’s the deal. You’re going to start a business or expand the one you’ve got now. It doesn’t really matter what you do or what you’re going to do. I’ll partner with you no matter what business you’re in – as long as it’s legal.

    But I can’t give you any capital – you have to come up with that on your own. I won’t give you any labor – that’s definitely up to you. What I will do, however, is demand you follow all sorts of rules about what products and services you can offer, how much (and how often) you pay your employees, and where and when you’re allowed to operate your business. That’s my role in the affair: to tell you what to do.

    Now in return for my rules, I’m going to take roughly half of whatever you make in the business each year. Half seems fair, doesn’t it? I think so. Of course, that’s half of your profits.

    You’re also going to have to pay me about 12% of whatever you decide to pay your employees because you’ve got to cover my expenses for promulgating all of the rules about who you can employ, when, where, and how. Come on, you’re my partner. It’s only “fair.”

    Now… after you’ve put your hard-earned savings at risk to start this business, and after you’ve worked hard at it for a few decades (paying me my 50% or a bit more along the way each year), you might decide you’d like to cash out – to finally live the good life.

    Whether or not this is “fair” – some people never can afford to retire – is a different argument. As your partner, I’m happy for you to sell whenever you’d like… because our agreement says, if you sell, you have to pay me an additional 20% of whatever the capitalized value of the business is at that time.

    I know… I know… you put up all the original capital. You took all the risks. You put in all of the labor. That’s all true. But I’ve done my part, too. I’ve collected 50% of the profits each year. And I’ve always come up with more rules for you to follow each year. Therefore, I deserve another, final 20% slice of the business.

    Oh… and one more thing…

    Even after you’ve sold the business and paid all of my fees… I’d recommend buying lots of life insurance. You see, even after you’ve been retired for years, when you die, you’ll have to pay me 50% of whatever your estate is worth.

    After all, I’ve got lots of partners and not all of them are as successful as you and your family. We don’t think it’s “fair” for your kids to have such a big advantage. But if you buy enough life insurance, you can finance this expense for your children.

    All in all, if you’re a very successful entrepreneur… if you’re one of the rare, lucky, and hard-working people who can create a new company, employ lots of people, and satisfy the public… you’ll end up paying me more than 75% of your income over your life. Thanks so much.

    I’m sure you’ll think my offer is reasonable and happily partner with me… but it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it because if you ever try to stiff me – or cheat me on any of my fees or rules – I’ll break down your door in the middle of the night, threaten you and your family with heavy, automatic weapons, and throw you in jail.

    That’s how civil society is supposed to work, right? This is America, isn’t it?

    That’s the offer America gives its entrepreneurs. And the idiots in Washington wonder why there are no new jobs…

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