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I could go for a massive inheritance tax, as long as provisions were made for marriage (we made this money together) and disabled children. Republicans would happily go along with it, right?

Comments

  1. numerobis says

    I’m all for this.

    Why an exemption for disabled children? It is (or should be) the duty of the state to provide for them, even when you’re still alive.

  2. F.O. says

    I have always been dabbling in the idea.
    Let’s pretend for one moment that we could find the political will to do it.
    Would there be a practical way to implement the law such that it would be not trivially circumvented? (I don’t understand much about law.)

  3. Nick Gotts says

    John Major, the little-known* successor to Margaret Thatcher, gave the right-wing game away, to anyone prepared to listen and think, when he said “I want to see wealth cascading down the generations”. IOW, all the “meritocratic” sentiments of Thatcherite Toryism were so much bovine excrement.

    I’m currently reading Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. One of his main messages is that, absent political action to prevent it, wealth concentration is likely to reach levels unprecedented in the period for which he’s been able to find adequate data (roughly the last two centuries), with inherited wealth becoming more and more important.

    *A British friend of mine, who was living in Vancouver at the time, had a short article or letter (I don’t recall which) printed in a Vancouver paper when Major succeeded Thatcher, which began:
    “Yesterday, John Major was almost unkown in Britain. Today, he’s almost unknown throughout the world.”

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve mentally toyed with the idea of not being able to inherit more than enough to buy a normal sized house. It makes the life journey more important, which is what builds character. I also like the idea of a 90+% tax rate above a certain income, and everything including capital gains is treated is personal income.

  5. Al Dente says

    While a few of the 1% have reached that pinnacle through their own efforts (Bill Gates being the most obvious example), most of them got their money through other peoples’ efforts. Mitt Romney, the Koch brothers and Donald Trump inherited fortunes from their fathers.

  6. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Could be a difference between US perspective and (part of) Europe(an): My grandparents’ generation is one when it was possible to go from 6 brothers and sisters sharing two pairs of shoes to working hard and moving up and eventually being able to buy a nice house or apartment, maybe build something. We’re not big on renting, we’re still attached to owning the place where we live. And inheritance plays a big role in that, because for a lot of people inheriting a house is the only thing keeping them afloat. With the current economical catastrophe, there is a big difference between having to pay rent and having next to nothing left over at the end of the month and having inherited your parent’s house so that there is something left over for the rainy days.

    So I’m for inheritance tax, but maybe a symbolic percentage up until a certain sum (it would still add up!) and rising for large amounts of money, going up to something like 90% for obscenely wealthy.

  7. Pen says

    From my contacts with my American in-laws, I’ve come to understand just how much power they expect to wield as the holders of hoarded family wealth, and what a conservative force that is. In contrast, in the more socialist Europe I grew up in (now threatened), if your elders started coming over all socially conservative with you, you could pat them on the head and laugh. Or tell them off. But either way, it didn’t make a difference to your life.

  8. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    ummm, cynic here.
    it’s easy to tax a given quantity money at any rate up to 100% (and up), but it gets much more contentious when attempting to tax goods; such as houses, or cars, or appliances, even jewelry and such. How can one arbitrarily assign a fixed value to a good without forcing an auction, then taxing the gross income from such a sale? Even if such an auction occurred the “victim” would often claim the bids were too low and he got underpaid, that even if the tax was .00001%, he lost a far higher percent of the “real value of those goods. (That’s what I would claim if I were in such a situation.)
    I agree with the concept of gifting-while-alive only vs. postmortem gifting, provided a little allowance is provided for the instances when death occurs before an intended gift could have been presented beforehand. Maybe if that intent could have been put in writing, stating the deceased’s will to gift that item… ooh, wait…

  9. Nick Gotts says

    How can one arbitrarily assign a fixed value to a good without forcing an auction, then taxing the gross income from such a sale? – slithey tove@10

    No need for it to be arbitrary at all. Houses in particular are routinely valued for inheritance tax purposes in the UK, taking into account size, condition, location etc. and current market conditions. Similarly, there are lively markets in art, jewellery, second-hand cars, even second-hand appliances.

  10. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    slithey tove,

    Hm, yes I can see another problem there.
    If what I inherit is a house and virtually no money and I don’t have a large income, I wouldn’t be able to pay the required tax (after the house is valued) and would be forced to sell it.
    So maybe I would change my first post into inheritance not being taxed at all for inheritance under a certain sum (don’t ask me how much exactly).

  11. AlexanderZ says

    Beatrice #12

    So maybe I would change my first post into inheritance not being taxed at all for inheritance under a certain sum (don’t ask me how much exactly).

    That was the method in several countries (including Israel), but currently the global trend is to abolish inheritance taxes all together.

  12. says

    Yeah, not sure this is a sound idea, entirely. We already have a disintegration of neighborhoods and families, due to the idea that everyone is “supposed to” be shoved out the door, to fend for themselves, with the result that no provision, outside of the rich class, exists for “wanting” to stay in your childhood home, or with you friends and relatives. But, that should be a choice, not a requirement, and being unable to inherit “anything”, or even being able to only inherit some level of property, pretty much means *everyone* is screwed, by default, and no one can own anything (since there will also be someone finding some way to make sure you own on it, and therefor can’t “keep” it, even if its technically inheritable, after all, you only gained your childhood home, when you parents both died, not the means to pay the mortgage.)

    So, no… there is a difference between equalizing the playing field, which we need to do, and “leveling it”, by grinding everything down to a flat, uniform, surface, where you might, in some vague sense, profit from your own actions, but everyone you know, and care about, is screwed, possibly before you are even dead yet, but, definitely the moment they have a car accident, or an unexpected heart attack, or anything else that leaves the state with everything, and you with nothing, not even the benefit you had, five seconds earlier, of being their kid. Why not just declare all children wards of the state, and take them at birth, and get it over with, right from the beginning?

    Definitely think there are some flaws in this… idea.

  13. says

    100% and free health care and education for everyone. Plus, all kids get a “grub stake” sufficient to begin payments on a house/car/the stuff you need to get going, escrowed over 3 years at an inflation-adjusted equivalent of 50k/year with a balloon of 100k the last year. Additionally since education would be free, expand the curriculum with a mandatory year-long program of “life skills” (how to contract, invest, balance a budget, bake bread, basic repair, first aid, scans and how to avoid them, religion and how to negotiate)
    Also: state-sponsored daycare as part of the educational system.

    A 100% tax woukd fund it easily but cancelling the DoD corrupt and ineffective weapons systems like the F35, littoral fighting ship, osprey, and nuclear weapons could fund the endowment for the grub stake program.

    The trick would be preventing sinecure jobs, hidden wealth transfer, buried gold bars, etc. intergenerational wealth is intergenerational power. It eventually equates to aristocracy no matter how you slice it.

  14. says

    Edit: also there shoukld be an option for kids that don’t want to go to college to attend an a la carte 4 years of trade and skills schools.

  15. numerobis says

    If the state actually played that role, we could dismiss that exemption. But it doesn’t.

    The state also doesn’t tax inheritance at 100%, so we’re all talking counterfactually. If the state did tax inheritance that much, a lot would be different. Even now, with the hyper-rich funding opposition to any entitlement programs (because they don’t want to fund the programs), the U.S. has disability payments. With no hyper-rich people, the opposition is presumably reduced.

    That said, the U.S. has inheritance tax now, yet it manages higher levels of inequality than Canada which doesn’t.

  16. mildlymagnificent says

    I read one idea I liked a loooong time ago, maybe in the New Statesman? The proposal was that inheritances and gifts should not be taxed as they leave the hands of the previous owner but as they’re received in the hands of the recipients. So the best way for people who want to avoid these taxes would be to spread the inheritance/gift either pretty thinly or, at least, give less to those who already have a lot.

    Of course, recipients could reduce any taxes they might incur by immediately spreading, or donating to charity, enough of the total received to get the net amount down below the taxable threshold, whatever that might be. If you _really_ pushed it, you could tax such windfalls of capital on the basis of the change in the total capital assets held by each recipient before and after the gift/inheritance. That notion would never fly in any country I’ve ever heard of. It would mean a virtual audit of everyone in a family because they’ve received an inheritance (unless they immediately donated the whole heap to charities).

  17. says

    I guess another really crazy stupid idea would be to do it like this:
    At birth, each child’s parents roll 2D20. If the child rolls 01-80 they get a “plain ticket” which means that when they grow up they’re expected to more or less fend for themselves. If the child rolls an 81-90 they get a “copper ticket” which means they are entitled to an advanced education, and a car when they graduate, maybe a cosigner on a loan. If they roll 91-99 they get a “brass ticket” which gives them all the education they want, medical car, a car, and a grubstake to help them start their life or a business or a job at the family business. If they roll a ’00’ they get a “gold ticket” which means they get all the education they want, a guaranteed sum of money enough that they never have to work if they don’t want to, a nice house, cars, and accessories, plus they get to travel abroad and see the world and have as many guaranteed jobs as they ever want if they want to work. They also get to throw the dice two more times and if they roll 2 more 00 in a row they get to control the equivalent of a small country and they get political power to go along with it.

    That sounds pretty fucked up, really. But that’s how it is now.

  18. says

    Addendum to previous: if you roll the ’00’ the child gets to consider itself “self-made” when it’s an adult, and to sneer at all the other kids who rolled in the 01-80 range, and to join the republican party and run for political office.

  19. numerobis says

    Reading up on Canadian tax law, I suddenly remember a detail: at death, the estate is deemed to have sold everything. This can make the estate owe capital gains taxes, which it has to pay, likely by actually selling some things. What remains then gets distributed out with no further tax implication.

    I know there’s ways to set up a trust to dodge part of this.

    Canadian tax law is fascinating if you’re into that sort of thing: there’s a tradition of trying to eliminate tax loopholes, even if the resulting rules look counterintuitive.

  20. Becca Stareyes says

    As others have said, I don’t mind helping your non-disabled kids get started, though with luck that comes before you die (or there are better social programs to give everyone a good safety net). And actual sentimental stuff like wedding rings. (Or stuff used jointly, like in PZ’s marriage example.)

    But it is a nice statement of intent: if you mean that people shouldn’t rely on handouts, gaining wealth from being born to rich parents is a lot bigger and better than whatever the state gives poor people.

  21. johnmarley says

    @ Al Dente (#6)
    27 June 2015 at 7:26 am

    (Bill Gates being the most obvious example)

    Bill Gates did not earn his wealth from poverty. Not even from the middle class. He earned his massive wealth from a starting point of moderate wealth. He is a weak example of the topic.

  22. anbheal says

    D’yeh ever notice how the same assholes who go on and on about hard work and earning your benefits also refuse to raise taxes on their dividends and capital gains, which are, drumroll please, unearned. And yes, of course, calling the estate tax the death tax, and convincing the poor to support its abolishment, when, for example, last year in Alabama only a dozen or so parents actually left enough money (at the current obscenely high indexing of five mil) to actually pay it. Yet the other 4.999988 million Alabamans want, at overwhelmingly popular rates, to pay more taxes themselves so that those sad 12 families can lower theirs. Stunning.

    I might also note that these are the same 1 percenters who yank their hair out over affirmative action, but expect their children to get legacy admissions to Daddy’s alma mater as a matter of course. The hypocrisy never dawns on them, and they will scramble their explanations into the most contorted pretzels should you ever challenge them on the double-standard.

  23. brett says

    High estate taxes tend to be difficult to enforce. The Postwar Period had high estate and gift taxes, but that largely didn’t stop rich families from passing on their wealth. I’d be fine with a steep inheritance and gift tax above $5 million, but I don’t think you’ll raise much in the way of revenues from it.

  24. unclefrogy says

    I like the idea but in general but have no idea of how such a system could be designed nor how it could be politically implemented.
    In fact I am increasingly attracted to ideas of completely changing how we organize the economic system. Of course any such reorganization would have to take into consideration how people actually behave and why and not based on some unrealistic belief or ideology. Again I have no idea of how to do such a thing. The one thing I do know is that there needs to be more democracy in how the economic system works and how it is organized.
    uncle frogy

  25. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Becca Stareyes,

    As others have said, I don’t mind helping your non-disabled kids get started, though with luck that comes before you die (or there are better social programs to give everyone a good safety net). And actual sentimental stuff like wedding rings. (Or stuff used jointly, like in PZ’s marriage example.)

    See, these sentiments I don’t get because it sounds like you are against inheritance no matter the size of it.
    Why wouldn’t I help my hypothetical non-disabled kids get started? So that they hopefully won’t need that safety net.

  26. eggmoidal says

    #29 Beatrice. A simple solution: give your children gifts and/or set up a trust for them before you die.

  27. Zeppelin says

    There’s no reason to buy a house, just rent a flat. Rent a house or half a house, if you really want a big yard or hate the idea of having neighbours or something. (I think that is the problem with American suburban living, right? I assume there’s no option to rent there. But if we have the hypothetical power to abolish inheritance, presumably we also have the power to change that.)

    Plywood-home-with-useless-lawn ownership is just a status symbol, a “tradition” in the same vein of capitalist manipulation of basically reasonable desires as those bizarrely expensive diamond engagement rings.

    Comedy nuclear option: Just abolish private property :v

  28. says

    @#6, Al Dente

    While a few of the 1% have reached that pinnacle through their own efforts (Bill Gates being the most obvious example)

    Um, no. Steve Jobs is the most obvious example, since his adopted father was a repo man and not at all wealthy. Bill Gates was the son of a very wealthy man, and the entire Windows empire was founded on two factors which would not have been available to someone who was poor:

    1. Bill Gates’ mother was a member of the same country club as some upper-level IBM executives who were complaining that they couldn’t find an OS for their new line of personal computers — the person they originally tried to buy from was rejected because he refused to wear a suit or be respectful of the stiff-necked IBM corporate culture. (Seriously!)
    2. Bill Gates used family money to buy the OS from the guy who was rejected by IBM and then sell it to IBM, renaming it “MS-DOS” instead of “QDOS”. (He also — even though IBM themselves used this contractual obligation on a regular basis and should have known better — managed to snooker IBM into a non-exclusive contract, which was why clones running MS-DOS started popping up all over the place, much to IBM’s dismay. Had IBM made the contract exclusive, the important thing about a PC would have been IBM hardware, not Microsoft operating systems, and all you Windows users would be on OS-2 Warp or some successor by now.)

    I don’t know where the idea came from that Bill Gates was some kind of pulled-up-by-his-own-bootstraps paragon of commercial virtue, but it certainly isn’t true.

  29. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    There’s no reason to buy a house, just rent a flat. Rent a house or half a house, if you really want a big yard or hate the idea of having neighbours or something.

    And don’t mind having little to no control over the property, relying on the owner’s goodwill and timeliness for maintenance and are comfortable with never having an ounce more insulation than the property was built with…

    the person they originally tried to buy from was rejected because he refused to wear a suit or be respectful of the stiff-necked IBM corporate culture.

    That stupidity should have cost the IBM execs their company. >.>

  30. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Zeppelin,

    There’s no reason to buy a house, just rent a flat. Rent a house or half a house, if you really want a big yard or hate the idea of having neighbours or something.

    I presume someone owns the flat/house I’m renting.

  31. says

    @#33, Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y

    That stupidity should have cost the IBM execs their company.

    At that time, and for about 5 years thereafter, IBM believed that PCs were a fad which would never be as big as mainframe/terminal contracts. The whole IBM PC project was rushed and underengineered, and only happened because Apple had demonstrated that people actually wanted to buy personal computers, which IBM tended to dismiss as toys. (That’s why, for example, Apple started selling computers which came with sound and relatively sophisticated graphics, but PCs basically came with neither and made you buy them as add-ons. If IBM had taken the project seriously and done its usual engineering, PCs circa 1982 would probably have been at least as fully-featured as the first Macs were.) (Of course, they also would have cost a lot more, and the cheapness of the PC was the driving factor in marginalizing Macs…)

    It’s tempting to laugh at those executives, but — if you’ll pardon another two-item numbered list:
    1. Until the last decade, IBM still made huge profits off their legacy mainframe business, so much so that it was one of the big items in their annual balance sheet. (Practically no cost to keep it going and the nature of the service locked businesses in pretty effectively.)
    2. “The Cloud” is essentially just the Mainframe/Terminal paradigm with web browsers as the terminals, and The Cloud has become very, very big business as an alternative to IBM’s Mainframe/Terminal systems (and those of their competitors). If IBM had been smart enough to foresee that and repackage their Mainframe contracts as Cloud Services, they would still be making huge profits off the basic idea. (Alas, IBM management for the last couple of decades has been on a par with that of Sears in the last few years, selling off whole divisions of the business which were profitable and being actively hostile to their own workers. One of the driving factors behind IBM’s adoption of Linux was that it let them lay off a lot of experienced, high-wage workers who had been working on their proprietary Unix OS and hire a lot of college kids with enthusiasm and a willingness to work for — relatively speaking — peanuts.)

    Anyway, sorry for the thread derailment; this just happened to touch on one of my hobby horse issues. I’ll shut up now.

  32. says

    Hmm. Ok. So, railed against the idea of no inheritance, so.. need to give an alternative, so here it is:

    1. A determination is made as to what sort of education/personal, non-corporate property one “has” or benefits from directly (i.e., actually use/live in), and how much, over all, one does, or would, general spend per year, for their life time, given those conditions. This is “allowed” as ones own person inheritance.

    2. Since we do sometimes have generational businesses, etc., those are also considered, as is the prospect that one may use the money one has to start one.

    2a. In the case of all monies not covered in #1, and which are not needed for expenses to “existing” business activities (which might include clothing for work, transportation, etc. And, yeah, that could include private jets, boats, if doing business would require such, legitimately). However, all liquid assets above this are placed in trust, with a ten year requirement for use, after graduating from college. If you start one, or more, businesses, in the US, within that time frame, using the trust, you can profit off of the result, and actually increase what may be available for doing the same, or even improving ones social status (i.e., being in one of the higher brackets, where daily expenses place the “allowed” inheritance higher than it is currently). If, after 10 years, all unused amounts are effectively forfeited.

    3. Non-liquid assets, which are not part of ones home, or already public access, such as libraries, car collections, etc., may be retained, along with the needed cost to maintain them, but **only** if they are placed into the public trust. I.e., you retain access to them, but you cannot deny the same access to someone that may wish to rent, view, or otherwise attain legitimate use them (this does not imply “use” in the sense of selling them off, or otherwise redistributing the assets, save where doing so has the effect of improving the now public exhibit or resource.

    4. The excepting to the above rules would include, to some extent, someone to whom you are married, as long as the assets in question are designated “shared”, and only for so long as those involve are both still alive (some provision may be needed here, to prevent something like serial marriages, where assets are traded, cleverly, as a spouse dies, and gets simply replaced, to dodge the other rules.)

    5. One may choose to invest portions of what the government might retain “into” the public trusts created from your non-liquid, non-business, assets.

    Think this more or less covers the bases. You don’t “lose” your social status, or way of life. You can retain those things that are more directly your own. You can’t hoard assets, in the sense of, say, famous paintings, in a vault some place, without them reverting to public property, on your death. The assets “can” be used to generate new businesses, and wealth for those whose parents held it, but only *if* its invested in new endeavors. And finally, the government still ends up keeping most of what you do not specifically NEED, unless you allot it to for public use anyway, via a museum, park, or what ever other thing results from your non-liquid, non-business assets.

    Something of this sort.. would make sense to me. Though, obviously.. working out the details, and not having 8,000 loopholes punched through it in the process…

  33. says

    There’s no reason to buy a house, just rent a flat. Rent a house or half a house

    Yes, because paying a tithe of your income to some wealthy landlord helps keep the landlord happy. Peonage is necessary for the preservation of the system! (oh, and by all means let the landlord will the rental properties to their kid so you can have generations of aristocrats!) What could possibly go wrong?

  34. sempercogitans says

    I’ve thought about this, and also just about placing a per-person cap on inheritance, while also accommodating for living spouses and children under a certain age or who require support as adults. Like maybe adult children could inherit a fixed amount, and non-adult children would be entitled to that amount plus a yearly amount until they were 18.

    It would be complicated to organize, but it isn’t like our tax laws (and I’m talking about the US, but this applies elsewhere, as well) aren’t extremely complicated anyway. It’s just that right now they’re that way because they’re mostly written by rich people who want to stay rich.

  35. ck, the Irate Lump says

    After reading all the people criticising ideas by saying that they’re not going to be completely effective, I have only one thing to add to the conversation: The perfect is the enemy of the good. Just because something isn’t 100% effective in all cases, that doesn’t mean it is therefore ineffective. An imperfection in an idea shouldn’t be enough to prevent it from being used because the search for the one true perfect idea tends to just be an excuse for inaction.

  36. Dunc says

    If what I inherit is a house and virtually no money and I don’t have a large income, I wouldn’t be able to pay the required tax (after the house is valued) and would be forced to sell it.

    It’s already pretty normal for inheritors to have to sell property in order to divide the estate anyway. It’s not the end of the world.

  37. qwints says

    @ck #39, the ideas in this thread are likely to be completely ineffective. You can’t tax gifts/inheritance at a higher rate than income without wage controls. Not to mention the industry that exists to get around the meager inheritance taxes that exist now – trusts and non-profits being very common, emigration as an exotic but difficult to control option. It’s really, really hard to effectively tax the obscenely rich and powerful.

  38. says

    Marcus #37:

    There’s no reason to buy a house, just rent a flat. Rent a house or half a house

    Yes, because paying a tithe of your income to some wealthy landlord helps keep the landlord happy.

    As long as we are daydreaming: Providing for attractive, well maintained rental housing in a variety of price ranges should be the responsibility of a democratically elected government.

    They could conceivably delegate the actual work to non profit co-ops and such.

    I am not against all private property, but the wealthy landlord of your example should certainly feel the competition of a well functioning public housing system.

  39. paulbc says

    When the top hat guy said you have until death to donate to any charity you like, I thought he was going to outline a money-laundering scheme that would eventually put it in the hands of your offspring anyway. I suspect that if we had a truly confiscatory inheritance tax, that would be the most likely outcome.

    –Paul

  40. says

    Beatrice 8

    We’re not big on renting, we’re still attached to owning the place where we live.

    That’s hardly unique to Europe. The ‘American Dream’ has always included owning a house, and usually some land. This, in turn, led to the tolerable streercar suburbs, and then the entirely unsustainable automobile suburbs. These suburbs were populated via white flight from the inner cities, taking much of the tax base with them (due, among other things, to the low values attributed to homes in black neighborhoods and the inability of residents of same to obtain mortgages in or out of the city). It is, in other words, a major element that perpetuates the structural racism of the U.S.

    And inheritance plays a big role in that, because for a lot of people inheriting a house is the only thing keeping them afloat.
    Which is honestly a separate problem; there’s too many people who can’t stay afloat (any is too many, really). Why is that? Partially, it’s because too much wealth is being hoarded in to few hands, and part of it is that infratructure is chronically underbuilt and underfunded (due, in no small part, to those hoarders clinging so hard to their wealth and refusing to put any back into the kitty).

    So I’m for inheritance tax, but maybe a symbolic percentage up until a certain sum (it would still add up!) and rising for large amounts of money, going up to something like 90% for obscenely wealthy.

    It’s also not necessarily necessary to classify all forms of inheritance the same; e.g., making someone’s primary home exempt from all tax, so long as it becomes/remains the heir’s primary home thereafter. There’s also the question of heirlooms, which have an emotional resonance for the heirs separate from their monetary worth as valuata, and there could very well be an exemption for up to X worth of personal belongings, where X is probably around $50-100,000 in today’s money (all dollar amounts specified in tax law should probably have an automatic clause that says they go up proportional to inflation)
    29

    See, these sentiments I don’t get because it sounds like you are against inheritance no matter the size of it.

    Monetary inheritance, yes, I pretty much am.

    Why wouldn’t I help my hypothetical non-disabled kids get started? So that they hopefully won’t need that safety net.

    Why should you have to or be expected to? The expectation itself propagates a class system in the same way that free school lunches for poor families do (the answer is free school lunches for everyone, btw), and sets up a social divide between the ‘rich’ (relatively speaking), whose family pays their way (and maybe more if they can afford it, in exchange for considerations…) and the poor, who go on state scholarships. Far better that the system pays everyone’s education and everyone’s grubstake, and it’s paid back in the long run via the taxes they’ll pay.
    Kagehi 16

    Yeah, not sure this is a sound idea, entirely. We already have a disintegration of neighborhoods and families, due to the idea that everyone is “supposed to” be shoved out the door, to fend for themselves, with the result that no provision, outside of the rich class, exists for “wanting” to stay in your childhood home, or with you friends and relatives.

    Turning children out when they reach majority is a cultural norm that has jack and shit to do with inheritance; people who want to stay near their childhood homes look for places near them to live and work all the time. They often can’t find them, but that’s for economic reasons that actually owe a lot to inheritance, as noted above; it would be a lot easier to stay near your childhood home in a more egalitarian economy.

    But, that should be a choice, not a requirement, and being unable to inherit “anything”, or even being able to only inherit some level of property, pretty much means *everyone* is screwed, by default, and no one can own anything

    This is stupidly hyperbolic and I think you know that. It demeans you to resort to this kind of bullshit; please refrain.

    (since there will also be someone finding some way to make sure you own on it, and therefor can’t “keep” it, even if its technically inheritable, after all, you only gained your childhood home, when you parents both died, not the means to pay the mortgage.)

    Most homeowners have finished paying the mortgage by the time they die; that’s one of the advantages, that when you’re old and living on a pension you’ll have paid it off and won’t have monthly payments anymore for your living space (property tax aside, but that’s a hell of a lot lower than the mortgage payment).

    So, no… there is a difference between equalizing the playing field, which we need to do, and “leveling it”, by grinding everything down to a flat, uniform, surface, where you might, in some vague sense, profit from your own actions, but everyone you know, and care about, is screwed, possibly before you are even dead yet,

    In addition to being a run-on sentence with far too many clauses, this whole thing is more silliness. Distinctly libertarian-flavored silliness, if my nose doesn’t deceive.

    but, definitely the moment they have a car accident, or an unexpected heart attack, or anything else that leaves the state with everything, and you with nothing, not even the benefit you had, five seconds earlier, of being their kid.

    Or, you know, use your tax money to pay for solid, stable infrastructure, such that no one is ever left destitute and helpless, because the state steps in to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

    Marcus Ranum 17
    Pretty much this, although I’d include a separate fund, paid out of a surtax on corporate/business profits, which provided startup capital for individual and cooperative business ventures (along with state-funded business incubators to provide technical assistance).

    brett

    High estate taxes tend to be difficult to enforce. The Postwar Period had high estate and gift taxes, but that largely didn’t stop rich families from passing on their wealth.

    They’re a lot easier to enforce if the agencies responsible aren’t hamstrung and the rich don’t get to write their own loopholes.

    I’d be fine with a steep inheritance and gift tax above $5 million, but I don’t think you’ll raise much in the way of revenues from it.

    Revenue is only secondarily the point; preventing the hoarding is the main benefit.

    Zeppelin

    There’s no reason to buy a house, just rent a flat. Rent a house or half a house, if you really want a big yard or hate the idea of having neighbours or something.

    Don’t be silly; renting is shite (Azkyroth covers the basics below), and more expensive than owning as well; far better that multifamily dwelling be principally organized as co-ops.