Goldberg begs to differ with Warren Buffet.
Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, December 11, 2007 10:00 a.m.
We don't normally look to Tinsel Town liberals for insights on U.S. tax policy, but Whoopi Goldberg's comments on the estate tax last week deserve more attention.
During a discussion of Republican Presidential candidates on ABC's "The View," which the comedian co-hosts, Ms. Goldberg said, "I'd like somebody to get rid of the death tax. That's what I want. I don't want to get taxed just because I died." The studio audience started applauding, but she wasn't done. "I just don't think it's right," she continued. "If I give something to my kid, I already paid the tax. Why should I have to pay it again because I died?" (Watch the video here.)
Back in 2001, before President Bush signed estate tax reform into law, the death duty topped off at 55% on estates worth more than $3 million. Today the top federal rate is 45% with an exemption of $2 million, and under current law the rate falls to zero in 2010. In 2011, however, the death tax is resurrected, with the top rate restored to 55% and the exemption set at $1 million.
When another co-host, Joy Behar, responded to Ms. Goldberg's remarks by asserting, "Only people with a lot of money say that," Ms. Goldberg shot back, "No, I don't think so. . . . It doesn't matter if you have or don't have money. Once you paid your taxes, it should be a done deal. You shouldn't have to pay twice."
Ms. Goldberg has her political facts down. It's not just "people with a lot of money" who oppose confiscatory estate taxes. Billionaires like Warren Buffett have made a crusade of urging Congress to keep the death tax, even as he shelters much of his own wealth from that tax by giving to charity. However, according to polls, some 70% of voters favor a full repeal. And many, like Ms. Goldberg apparently, do so on moral grounds. Death as a taxable event and double taxation offend the average American's sense of fairness.