To The Herald-Whig:
It's the time of year that we talk about tax reform, or if you are the one-trick pony known as the Republican Party, you're really talking about tax cuts for the rich and large corporations.
At the top of their list is the Star Wars-sounding "death tax," or for those who don't prefer hyperbole, the estate tax. The Farm Bureau fans the flames of repeal particularly hard in Illinois. I just saw a postcard sent to Bureau members requesting information about the harrowing experiences they might have had grappling with this tax. The Illinois Farm Bureau's FarmWeek paper features an article "Tax Burdens Continue to Plague Family Farmers," which recommends that tax burdens be "truly alleviated," including the estate tax.
Let's see. The Tax Policy Center's Briefing Book says in 2016 we had 11,200 estate tax returns filed, of which 5,300 were taxable. Considering a U.S. population of 320 million, that's 0.0017 percent paid estate tax. There were 12.8 million people in Illinois in 2016, so less than 220 people would have paid estate tax. Using the phrase "death tax" means either: 1) you don't understand arithmetic; 2) someone is trying to deceive you.
There is a reason E.J.Dionne calls this the "Paris Hilton Tax."