The Estate Tax Compromise
In 2011 the federal estate tax is scheduled to revert to its pre-2001 form, with a $1 million exemption and a 55% rate on large estates. Several compromise bills are now under discussion that would raise the exempt amount and lower rates. Although many arguments bear on this decision, the choice ultimately turns on the relative force of two opposing moral principles: a principle of autonomy with respect to the use of one's justly acquired property and a principle of equality with respect to unmerited advantages. We should worry much less about raising the exempt amount than lowering rates.
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