Tax Compass: Letters to the Editor

TaxStringer Staff
Published Date:
Nov 1, 2016

The letters to the editor below are comments from readers in response to Daniel Mazzola’s article, “Why the Estate Tax Should Concern Us All,” which appeared in the
October 2016 TaxStringer.

I completed reading your article, and as a New Jersey resident with older family members, I notice I have a growing interest in estate taxes at both the federal and state levels. One item that regularly comes to mind when considering estate taxes is this: Decedents have already paid taxes during their lifetime on the income they have accumulated. To penalize them a second (and possibly third) time by penalizing the wealth accumulated by hard work and smart money management flies in the face of pursuing the American dream and—in some eyes—is seen as criminal. I fully agree that many of us, especially aging baby boomers, need to pay very close attention to this topic and also raise the question to our local elected officials and congressional representatives. In many cases, the costs for many middle class Americans could be their estates.  

On a separate note: New Jersey is noted as being one of the worst states in terms of estate taxes. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been using changes to estate tax legislation as part of negotiations to raise the gasoline tax and add funding to the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). There was recently an announcement of an agreement between the TTF and the state legislature that would bring those changes to fruition, benefiting many of the middle class New Jersey families you mentioned in your article. 

Thank you for your insightful article and look forward to reading more from you in the future. 

John Yarenis

I totally disagree with Mr. Mazzola’s ideas. An estate tax is part and parcel of any tax system that claims to be progressive. The main reason, besides revenue raising, is that the estate tax prevents the undue accumulation of wealth among our upper classes, a problem that is becoming more and more apparent as we proceed into the 21st century. Why? Going back as far as Louis Brandeis, such stratifications endanger democracy. To paraphrase, Brandeis said: we can have democracy, or we can have wide disparities in wealth, but not both. America has an economic and political system and society that is very kind to the monied class; they should be more than happy to pay more than their fair share to prop it up.

Peter J. Murphy

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