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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 16, 2009 7:31 AM. The previous post in this blog was 'Dogs are on the way . The next post in this blog is 'Dogs all weekend. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why you can't get a life support machine for the next two weeks

I can't believe my eyes, but it appears that the heavily Democratic Congress of the United States is going to fumble the ball and allow the federal estate tax to go out of existence as of midnight on New Year's Eve.

That ripping noise you hear is the sound of the rich folks in the West Hills tearing up their "do not resuscitate" directives. If an estate tax extension isn't passed, and if Grandma makes it to January 1, she won't be subject to the federal estate tax, which takes a big chunk out of estates of more than $3.5 million. If she keels over tomorrow, they'll need to keep her going until two weeks from Friday morning. Her survival could save her family many millions in tax.

The latest word from our nation's capital is that the House of Representatives, which has passed an estate tax extender, is going home for the holidays today or tomorrow, but the Senate hasn't passed any such law and probably won't accept the House version. Which means that come the new year, there won't be an estate tax.

Oh yes, it may get reinstated, and maybe even retroactively, but don't count on it. Given that the Senate has devolved down to a fat cat hair club for men, that's probably how they want it, anyway.

This Congress will go down in history as one of the biggest blown opportunities in history for the liberal elements in our society. For those of us who burned with hope a year ago that things in this country were about to change, it's a real betrayal. Guys like Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) turn out to be the biggest enemies that regular Joes and Janes could possibly have.

Meanwhile, on another front, this is highly disturbing. It's as if the government is going out of its way to create disrespect for the tax system. Eventually that sort of thing is going to bite the government where it sits. Reckless people appear to be in charge of an increasingly desperate situation.

Comments (18)

The repeal of the estate tax is just disgusting. Even the Bill Gates family oppose this! The top 1/2 of 1% should pay.
This will also negatively impact the many charities who get the excess $$$ to avoid the taxes.
...so much for change of any sort.

As I understand the situation, under current law, while the estate tax goes away next year, it comes back in 2011 at the level it was back in 2001, unless Congress changes the law. Which provides all sorts of interesting incentives for seeing to it that grandma bites the dust in 2010 ...

So in 2010 its the progressives that will have the legislative advantage on this issue.

The Citi loss carryforward ought to really stick in the craw of people who sold stocks at or near the bottom. The individual taxpayers will be subject the $3,000 annual capital loss limitation. I see a move coming to up that limit to $10,000 or more. The web gets more and more tangled.

I am jealous of the perpetual life of corporations. They forever escape the death tax. They seemingly pass only by way of bankruptcy or through cosmetic morphing. They are our modern era Gods.

It would only be fair that they die (and maybe reincarnate) no less than once in any 72 year period, and pay whatever death tax would apply to any other ordinary "person." We could have a corporate death lottery where 1.39 percent (100/72) of all private corporations are declared dead each year, for purposes of death taxes. Such a lottery might help avoid the gaming of the timing of death, just as is played for recognition of capital gains or the manipulation of the recognition of losses by strategically offsetting them against another corporation's otherwise taxable gain.

Is Grandma just an easier target than our corporate Gods? She is a mere mortal after all, and she cannot merge with a young punk who is saddled with losses so as to neutralize their combined tax obligation. Demand no less than parity with the Gods.

Usually grandma and grandpa figure out a way to make it through Christmas to protect the young ones from the misery of it all. This year, they got to hang on seven more days. And if they don't, not to worry. Brace yourselves for the onslaught of cold corpses that will be wheeled into emergency rooms early New Year's day.

Myerson in WA Post has a great piece today that shows why we're even talking about "death taxes" at all -- the vultures are stripping the corpse of American democracy, having murdered it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/15/AR2009121503382_pf.html

Democrats don't deserve to lead this country and Rethuglicans cannot be allowed to lead this country.

What are we to do?

Oregon's Right to Die should be busy in 2010....with a little help from family members of the "What? It's time for me to die?" people.

I think it was Krugman who referred to this whole cockamamie thing as the "Throw Mama from the Train in 2010 Act."

Gordon,

You're right... it goes away for 1 year, then comes back at the higher, pre-Bush rates.

The house enacted a bill that does renew the estate tax, but does so at much lower rates.

I don't know that this is such a bad thing, in the long run.

We just got so busy gutting health care, that we forgot about the estate tax. Oops, oh well chalk that sin of omission up to "wealth care" the true concern of our Congress.

ron wyden (R-N.Y.) ??? enemy of regular joes & janes??? last time i checked he was the senior senator from oregon, & one of the more progressive dems in the building.

Isn't interesting how everyone wants a piece of the other person's money? Did granny or gramps not pay taxes on this money their entire life?

Now that they saved their money and accrued quite a bit of it, the folks who have frittered theirs away wants Uncle Sam to exact his pound of flesh from the dead.

I got an idea, get up off your butts and start working and saving like granny & gramps did and build your own nest egg.

BTW envy does not look good on you.

pj, you're speaking to the would-be heirs, right? After all, inheriting the kind of wealth that runs into the estate tax hardly qualifies as getting off ones butt and working and saving . . .

And, no, most real wealth is not taxed during the life of the owner -- it's capital gains, and the owners don't pay taxes on that until transfer, and even then at a sharply reduced rate compared to wage income. And the heirs have done nothing at all to "earn" their boon.

The most astounding thing about whinging about the "death tax" is that heirs get assets at their stepped-up (current) basis -- meaning that the guy who dies with a chain of apartments or franchises and dies leaving them in his estate has never paid on the capital gains, and the heirs get the assets at the stepped up basis and now, thanks to W and the Rollover Dems (redundant, I know), entirely tax free!

pdxnag, one corporation of local and Great NW importance that was killed off prematurely by collusion between the FDIC's Sheila Bair and JPMChase's Jamie Dimon -- Obama's best bud -- was WaMu. $307bill of WaMu's assets, including $188bill in deposits -- of which at least $4bill was a cash deposit by WaMu's holding company, WMI, in its own bank -- was given to JPM for the very risible $1.888bill, a figure arrived at by Bair, it would seem, solely because WaMu was founded in 1889.

But despite the Wall St/DC-oriented mainstream media (NYT, CNBC, NPR, eg), the Puget Sound Business Journal has investigated how the feds and JPM pulled the plug on the solvent thrift:
http://www.portfolio.com/industry-news/banking-finance/2009/12/07/why-federal-regulators-closed-washington-mutual/

Can WaMu be resuscitated in some form? The DE bankruptcy court may determine to what extent corporate existence can be retrieved from the FDIC(OTS,SEC,Treasury)/JPM death cabal.

Taking money out of people's pockets is usually meets with heavy resistance.

Taking money out of people's pockets is usually meets with heavy resistance.

It's easier when they're dead.

CITI's dip into the public purse is negligible compared to the cash grab by four big mortgage holders, as Mary Williams Walsh describes in yesterday's NYT:

"These companies, the American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and GMAC, are not only unable to repay the government, they are in need of continuing infusions that make them look increasingly like long-term wards of the state.

And the total risk they pose to the taxpayer far exceeds that of the big banks. Fannie and Freddie, in the final days of the year, are even said to be negotiating with the Treasury about greatly expanding the money available to them."

Curious, isn't it, that WaMu was solvent when seized and given to JPM a few days before TARP monies were distributed by Paulson and Co to a select group of enduringly insolvent financial institutions?


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