Carney on Estate Tax Rent Seeking

Former Brookes Fellow Tim Carney, in his Examiner column, explains how the estate tax provides a windfall for life insurers who help their clients find way to avoid paying the tax.

Investment mogul and estate tax defender Warren Buffett testified before Congress Wednesday that only 0.5 percent of the Americans who die this year will pay the estate tax, or, as he put it, “You would have to attend 200 funerals to be at one at which the decedent’s estate owed a tax.”

What Buffett ignores is that you’d probably only have to attend a handful of funerals before you attended one where the family spent countless hours and sunk thousands or millions of dollars into avoiding the estate tax.

Now visualize those “countless hours” and “millions of dollars” spent on tax preparation around the entire economy, to get an idea what it does to American prosperity.