Proponents of permanently repealing the estate tax often propagate various myths about it, but Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who chairs the Joint Economic Committee and is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, went a step further last week. In introducing legislation to repeal the estate tax, Brady stated, “What kind of government swoops in upon your death and takes nearly half of the nest egg you’ve spent your entire life building?”
Well, not the U.S. government — not even close. Rep. Brady’s characterization of the tax, highlighted in a news release he issued June 19 with Senate Finance Committee member John Thune (R-SD), the bill’s Senate sponsor, is not only flatly wrong. It’s also highly irresponsible, in that it comes from such a senior member of two relevant congressional committees who should know the basic facts about the tax he’s proposing to abolish, at considerable cost to the Treasury.
The truth is this: only a tiny sliver of estates pay any tax at all, and the very wealthy ones that do so pay at a rate that’s far less than half. Repealing the estate tax would amount to a massive windfall for the inheritances of the wealthiest Americans.