Many people like to think of the estate tax as a victimless crime.
Sure it is double taxation, they’ll say, but the government needs the money and, besides, few people actually pay. Unfortunately, the estate tax actually contributes very little to the federal budget, and its victims are real and tragic: family farms and small businesses.
It works like this: When small farmers and businesspeople die, their estates must pay a sum equal to 47 percent of the value of their total assets above $2 million, including their farms and businesses. If the heirs cannot pay the tax, they must liquidate.
In all likelihood, this is what will happen to Melanie Meyer’s business. The majority owner of the Versailles Arms apartment complexes, which together constitute one of the largest Section 8 public-assistance housing properties in New Orleans, Ms. Meyer has been an exceptional proprietor and community leader. …
Yet the estate tax is even more unfair to the members of the community who have benefited from the existence of the Versailles Arms. If the tax persists, Ms. Meyer’s properties will expire when she does.
Democrats continuously frame the repeal of the estate tax as a tax cut for the rich. However, there are clearly victims they don’t mind ignoring — not just business owners, but the community members they serve.