Evaluate the Ethicality of the Gift and Estate Tax

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There have been many controversies regarding the ethicality of gift and estate taxes when an individual has paid taxes all of their life. The argument begs the question, why should one’s estate and gifts be taxed when this money was already taxed at one point in their life? It is essentially a double taxation. Because “corporate and individual income taxes constitute the lion's share of total tax revenues” (Lovinger, 2012), how much more should the government be sucking out of its people? The estate tax began in 1916 with the gift tax following in 1924. Another tax was eventually added, a generation-skipping tax, where all together these taxes represent “one way of reducing the potential wealth society’s richest families might accumulate over several generations” (Spilker, Ayers, Robinson, Outslay & Worsham, 2013, pg. 25-2). It even seems like the government has debated over the ‘fairness’ of these taxes because in 2010, the estate tax was optional. In light of the direction our country is headed, taxes seem to be a priority and to some, a solution, to the debt problem we currently face. The estate and gift taxes are one way the government ‘quietly’ generates revenue. One justification is that estate taxes are less intrusive on a person’s day-to-day lifestyle, unlike increases in income taxes, which have a direct affect. In 1976, the government ‘unified’ the estate and gift tax, which generated a common formula. A positive side to these transfer taxes is that “it takes lifetime transfers into account to determine the tax on assets transferred at death” (Spilker, Ayers, Robinson, Outslay & Worsham, 2013, pg. 25-3) Gift taxes are in a sense a prepayment of the estate tax. Despite the disagreements about the estate and gift taxes, the government does provide certain ways around these taxes. Most taxpayers will not actually have to pay an estate tax
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