Human Events – The Death Tax: Not Simply the Paris Hilton Tax

My first piece for Human Events Online, “The Death Tax: Not Simply the Paris Hilton Tax,” is now online.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ICallMasICM says:

    Since Paris Hilton’s parents are both alive and she hasn’t inherited anything what does she have to do with the Estate tax?

  2. DC Loser says:

    ICMAICM – you must be very dense. Do a google for “paris hilton inheritence.” You’ll see she inherited $27.5 million from her GRANDFATHER!

  3. LaurenceB says:

    Opposition to taxes is an easy position to adopt. After all, we are all anti-taxes. But since the government must have revenue, there must be taxes.

    So, our task is to find and support those taxes that are the most fair, the most efficient, and the the most economically and culturally beneficial. Weighing these criteria out in my mind, I believe the estate tax deserves to remain in place.

    James does a good job, in my opinion, of laying out the opposing position, but I’m ultimately unconvinced.

  4. ICallMasICM says:

    Then whomever paid whatever tax she was subject to. Talk about dense, that’s earth core material.

  5. jwb says:

    Your article doesn’t seem to address where the replacement revenue will come from after the tax is repealed, and why that source of taxation is more fair or more morally acceptable than the Estate Tax.

  6. James Joyner says:


    The piece isn’t a comprehensive plan for revising the tax code, just a rebuttal of an argument currently being bandied about. Surely one can argue that robbing banks is wrong without also explaining how those people who are now robbing banks would replace the income?

  7. MrGone says:

    Couple of points(again):

    If someone gave one of their children a large sum of money, anything over $12,000 would be taxed. So the day after death, it shouldn’t be?

    If someone converted all their assets to cash, they would have to pay capital gains tax (e.g. Bill Gates has 23b in stock that’s never been taxed). But again, the day after death you don’t have to?

    Why do I pay a total tax burden of nearly 50% just because I work for a living and people want to ensure that the poor unfortunate ultra-rich remain that way?

    How much are you personally willing to contribute so that the extremely wealthy can have even more? To put it another way, please name the current programs or spending cuts that you would recommend to pay for this.

    Why do so many people seem to think this effects them in any way whatsoever?

  8. jwb says:

    James Joyner: You could make that argument, but first you’d need to make the argument that the Estate Tax is theft. Bank robbery is immoral on its face.

    Since your argument is purely moral – that the tax is just wrong on principle – I don’t think you can sever it from the consequences. Bush and the 109th are still running a huge deficit, so any revenue lost to a tax cut will need to be borrowed. It would, I think you will agree, be irresponsible to borrow in order to fund a tax cut, so I’d like to hear which 1.2% of federal spending you think should be cut to balance the lost revenue.

  9. James Joyner says:

    jwb: Read your own comment again.

  10. jwb says:

    I’m just an unfrozen caveman internet commenter. Your modern style of argument confuses and frightens me.

  11. James Joyner says:

    jwb: You concede that the bank robbery argument is valid because “Bank robbery is immoral on its face.” In the next thought, you inform me that, “Since your argument is purely moral – that the tax is just wrong on principle – I don�t think you can sever it from the consequences.”

    That doesn’t make sense.

  12. jwb says:

    Then you’ll need to explain to me why the estate tax is akin to bank robbery, but other taxes are not.

    The power of the state to tax is well established. The wrongness of bank robbery is also well established. I’m sure I don’t need to explain it to you. Robbery is wrong because it unilaterally deprives another individual of their property. Taxation is acceptable because it deprives people of their property by means of due process of law, in order to advance all those nice ideas which are enumerated in the Preamble, namely “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”