"New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and hundreds of other multimillionaires (and some billionaires, like Steinbrenner) who have passed away this year disproved the old adage, 'the only two things certain in life are death and taxes.' [...]
The federal estate tax that in the past applied to multimillion-dollar fortunes fully expired at the end of 2009, after President George W. Bush’s 2001 $1.35 trillion tax cut package for the wealthy exempted larger and larger estates from the levy each year.
Today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, philanthropist and Walt Disney heir Abigail Disney and others called for a reinstatement of the tax.
During a telephone press conference sponsored today by United for a Fair Economy (UFE), Trumka said:
'Today, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the suspension of the estate tax and other policies favoring the super-rich are key contributors to our nation’s budget deficits.
Our nation desperately needs revenue to invest in job growth, education, health and infrastructure.' [...]
The AFL-CIO, UFE and others on the call said the estate tax should be restored at its 2009 levels or stronger. [...]"
Read the full column by Mike Hall on the AFL-CIO News Blog
"[...] Partisan wrangling last year resulted in the estate tax dropping to zero in 2010, costing the government billions in revenue. Democrats hope to reinstate the tax for next year, exempting the first $3.5 million of a person or family’s estate and taxing the rest at up to 45 percent. That makes it the country’s most progressive tax, applying to less than one percent of estates.
An alternative proposal, by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), calls for an exemption of $5 million and a top rate of 35 percent. If the Senate does not act, the tax bounces back to 2001 levels, with an exemption of $1 million and a top rate of 55 percent. [...]
But today, some very, very wealthy folks publicly lobbied for the estate tax — essentially saying, “Take my money, please.” They argue that the tax encourages charitable giving and planning among wealthy families — and is good for the country. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have previously called for a high estate tax, and on fellow billionaires to give wealth away. And today, so did Bob Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary, a Disney heiress and a number of others. [...]"
Read the full column by Annie Lowrey on WashingtonIndependent.com
"Some high-profile, high net-worth folks on Wednesday called on Congress to impose a 'strong' estate tax going forward.
'Our country is on an unsustainable fiscal path. [Revenue from an estate tax can] fund deficit reduction, additional public investment, or added assistance to those affected by the economic crisis,' said Robert Rubin, who served as Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration and more recently as chairman of Citigroup.
Moreover, Rubin added, 'our nation has always held itself out as a meritocracy and a land of opportunity, and an estate tax helps avoid accumulation of inherited economic and political power that is antithetical to this historical vision of our society.'
Rubin was joined by former hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, Walt Disney's grand-niece Abigail Disney and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka on a call organized by liberal group United for a Fair Economy. [...]
What next for the estate tax: The debate is made more complex by growing concern over the country's fiscal situation given the economic slowdown and the approach of unsustainable spending by the end of the decade.
The individuals who spoke out on Wednesday are advocating for an estate tax that is equal to or stronger than what was in place in 2009. [...]
Those who support an estate tax say, among other things, that it bolsters charitable giving, since making bequests is a tax-deductible event and reduces the size of one's taxable estate.
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have called on billionaires to become uber-philanthropists by giving away at least half of their net worth to charity. Doing so would substantially reduce the taxes their heirs would owe and therefore greatly reduce Uncle Sam's take.
'It's a wonderful idea. But the nonprofit sector can't do what the government does,' said Disney, who runs the Daphne Foundation. She noted that directing money to a given cause is worthy but no substitute for putting money into a communal pot that the government can use to perform vital functions that no charity does -- like provide infrastructure and defense.
'What you do around estate taxes should not be to avoid paying your fair share,' she said."
Read the full column by Jeanne Sahadi on CNNMoney.com
"Right now, millionaires and billionaires who die in 2010 can pass on their fortunes to heirs without any estate tax.
So, thanks to the expiration of 2001 Bush tax cuts and the year of Congress not doing anything about it, many somewhat cruel heirs have, maybe, a reason to hope their parents die this year.
Two guys that are now saying they want the estate tax reinstated ASAP, hopefully before August when Congress recesses, are Julian Robertson and Robert Rubin. [...]"
Read the full column by Courtney Comstock on BusinessInsider.com
"What do Disney heir Abigail Disney, hedge-fund billionaire Julian Robertson and former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin have in common? They want rich people to pay estate taxes and they say they're willing to pay those taxes themselves.
On Wednesday, Disney, Robertson, Rubin and Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, joined with the advocacy group United for a Fair Economy to call on Congress to reinstate the estate tax before lawmakers' August recess.
"My life of great comfort was made possible in spite of the estate tax, and my grandfather would be the first person to tell you he was able to amass his fortune not in spite of but because of the American system," including that tax, Abigail Disney, grandniece of Walt Disney and granddaughter of Roy Disney, said in a conference call with reporters.
For his part, Julian Robertson, on Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans in 2009, whose firm Tiger Management was one of the first hedge funds in the 1980s, said the estate tax is a key tool for lowering the government deficit.
"You don't get out of a credit crisis by borrowing more money. You get out of a credit crisis by putting your house in order, and in America's case by bringing its budget deficit down," Robertson said on the call. [...]"
Read the full article by Andrea Coombes on MarketWatch.com
"Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Tiger Management LLC Founder Julian Robertson and an heir of Walt Disney urged Congress to reinstate a tax on multimillion-dollar estates, possibly retroactively.
The three were joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today to support efforts by a Boston-based advocacy group, United for a Fair Economy, pressing lawmakers to act before Congress adjourns for a month-long recess in August.
The deaths of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and at least three other billionaires this year has focused attention on the absence of the levy, which lapsed Jan. 1. Had they died in 2009, they would have paid as much as 45 percent on much of their estate, depending on how their wills were structured.
“We should restore the estate tax in its entirety, and restore it now,” Rubin, who was Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, said on a conference call with reporters. He said making the tax retroactive to cover all of 2010 “should be very seriously considered.”
In 2001, Congress passed legislation phasing out the estate tax over the following decade and eliminating it for 2010. Unless Congress acts, the levy is scheduled to return in 2011, with a top 55 percent rate that would apply to amounts of taxable estates that exceed $1 million. [...]"
Read the full article by Ryan J. Donmoyer on Bloomberg.com.
"Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Tiger Management founder Julian Robertson have joined a growing chorus calling for the U.S. estate tax, which expired last year, to be reinstated by Congress before its August recess.
The recent death of New York Yankees boss George Steinbrenner helped shine a spotlight on an unprecedented situation: millionaires and billionaires who die in 2010 can pass on their fortunes to heirs without any estate tax, thanks to the expiration of 2001 Bush tax cuts followed by a year of Congressional inaction.
Now a group that includes formerly Goldman Sachs co-head Rubin, hedge fund pioneer Robertson and Walt Disney heir Abigail Disney are calling on Congress to reinstate the estate tax before the August recess. These three, along with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will speak at a Wednesday press conference.
The estate tax, which was reduced in 2001 by the Bush Administration, expired at the end of last year. It has not yet been replaced amid debate over how high the bar should be set for exemption and how steep the rate should be. [...]"
Read the full article by Joseph A. Giannone on Reuters.com
"Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin called on Congress to immediately reinstate the estate tax, and said lawmakers should consider re-imposing the tax on the heirs of wealthy individuals who escaped it by dying this year.
Rubin, who spoke during a conference call sponsored by liberal group United For a Fair Economy, said that retroactive tax increases are "ordinarily considered not a good thing." But that's because in many cases taxpayers will argue that they relied on the current tax code--a more difficult case to make when it comes to the timing of one's death, Rubin said.
Therefore, making the tax retroactive to Jan. 1 "should be very seriously considered," Rubin said.
The estate tax was repealed for one year beginning Jan. 1. Unless Congress intervenes, it will return in 2011 to tax estate wealth in excess of $1 million at a 55% rate. [...]"
Read the full article by Martin Vaughan of Dow Jones Newswires on Nasdaq.com.
"Hedge fund billionaire Julian Robertson joined former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Disney heiress Abigail Disney in a teleconference call today to urge Congress to restore a hefty estate tax before it goes home for recess in August.
'America is in a situation where it needs every dollar it can raise and this, the inheritance tax, is the fairest way to raise it,' said Robertson, who described inheritors as 'the least deserving recipients of wealth.' Rubin, who made his money as a Goldman Sachs partner and executive, described the passing of untaxed wealth as 'antithetical' to the 'dynamism' of the American economy.
The conference call was sponsored by United for A Fair Economy, whose Responsible Wealth project has recruited more than 2,000 high-net-worth folks, including George Soros; William Gates Sr., the father of Microsoft founder William Gates III and Vanguard Group found Jack Bogle to sign a "Call to Preserve the Estate Tax. [...]"
Read the full column by Ashlea Ebeling and Janet Novak on Forbes.com
"The unlikely duo of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and former Treasury
secretary Robert Rubin told reporters on a conference call Wednesday
that the estate tax — which has lapsed since the beginning of the year —
should be put back in place before the August congressional break.
When asked why they both support reinstating the tax despite past differences, Trumka joked, “The reason we agree is Bob has finally seen the light.”
Rubin and Trumka have often clashed, with labor leaders warning Democrats to distance themselves from the free-trade policies advocated by Rubin and other Democrats with ties to Wall Street. [...]
Both Rubin and Trumka said restoring the tax would be 'sound policy.' [...]"