Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Death Tax Saves Lives

Somehow, a thread on the John Bolton nomination over on CBR got to talking about the estate tax. I posted something about how I figure that raising smart, dedicated children who aren't afraid of challenge is a better way of giving them a good life than making sure they'll get a whole bunch of money after you're dead. Then my brain took a detour down the old dirt road that goes by the Bates Motel. I thought I'd share the results with you:

One of the hallmarks of the detective story is murder-for-inheritance: bump off the old man and take his money. But the estate tax is taken out before the heirs receive any inheritance (or maybe it's a tax on the money they receive as an inheritance; I'm fuzzy on the specifics). Ergo, under the estate tax, any inheritance received through murder would be lessened by X percent (this year 47%). That drop in amount could, one thinks, factor into a decision of whether or not the money is worth a person's life and/or the risk of getting caught. It is, I think, entirely possible that someone, somewhere, may have foregone murdering a rich relative while the estate tax was in effect for just that reason. Furthermore, it's entirely possible that the gradual reduction of estate tax rates and increase of mimimum eligible estate value currently underway may give someone who had considered doing so, but decided against it for just this reason, to go ahead after all.

All of which leads to one inexorable conclusion: The FBI needs to keep a very close eye on Paris Hilton. (Not that they probably aren't already.)

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