Death tax deception

Andy Matthews

Dick Patten, president of the American Family Business Institute and occasional NPRI writer, has a new piece out for Human Events in which he takes President Obama to task for his skullduggery over the death tax.

Writes Patten:

Footnotes are generally used to disclose sources or to explain an obscure fact. They are not used to recommend massive tax policy changes. Yet this is just what Obama does in his Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Proposal.

Slog through the budget to page 127, and see footnote 1, which states, "[T]he estate tax is maintained at its 2009 parameters." What does this mean?

Under current law enacted by the Bush tax relief of 2001, the death tax is scheduled to be repealed for one year in 2010. Due to complex Senate budget reconciliation rules, the tax then comes back at the rate of 55% in 2011. Obama's footnote assumes that Congress will cancel the temporary repeal and make the death tax permanent at the rate of 45%.

President Bush and most of the Republicans have been fighting to make repeal permanent for the last eight years. This change would render all those efforts asunder.

That's a pretty significant policy proposal. Why is Obama hiding it deep in his budget in a footnote? Is there a reason to be so secretive?

Oh, right. Obama has probably heard that taxes which punish people for saving and investing don't help the economy.

The whole piece, as with just about all of Patten's work, is worth checking out.