The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Con (against)
Losing
35 Points
The Contender
PoeJoe
Pro (for)
Winning
53 Points

Inheritance taxes should be abolished.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/13/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,596 times Debate No: 4993
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (19)

 

brian_eggleston

Con

Lets say you receive an email from a lawyer in Nigeria informing you that a wealthy relative (that you never knew you had) had been killed in a road accident in Lagos and has left their entire fortune to you, and after sending the lawyer a transaction fee of $5000 he transfers $13,530,051 into your bank account.

I believe that this windfall, like all unearned capital gains, should be subject to taxation so that society as a whole can share in the good fortune of those people lucky enough to receive large amounts of cash or assets from wealthy benefactors.
PoeJoe

Pro

----Flawed Premise----

Okay, okay. First of all, my opponent's premise for this debate is deeply flawed. This suppos�d Nigerian lawyer my opponent speaks of has contacted millions of Americans. Simply, it is a scam to steal your money. I strongly advise my opponent not to send this Nigerian $5000 because it is highly doubtful that he would get $13530051 in return.

----Counterarguments----

All my opponent has done in his opening argument (besides offer a humorous anecdote) is provide his position. He has given no argument whatsoever for me to rebut. So eat babiez.

----Arguments----

The arguments I will use for this debate are as follows.

1) The death tax would mean double taxation at two different time periods. Property would be taxed once on purchase and then again on death. This is referred to as double dipping which is not only logically wrong, but legally wrong as well.

2) It is true that the death tax only applies to the very wealthy. However, why give the money to a government known for over spending and ridiculous pork budgets, when it could be used for further investment in America's biggest companies? More money to these companies would mean lower prices, higher salaries, and a general betterment of human life.

2a) In following with the above argument, repealing the death tax would remove the disincentive for company owners not to expand their business later in life.[1] In some cases, expanding one's value later in life would be discouraged in an otherwise expanding business. Instead, these company owners would try to use tax evasion techniques such as shifting resources, liquidating assets, gift transfers, trusts, and other tax free investments. In other words, the death tax stunts the growth of America's companies. Again, repealing the death tax would mean lower prices, higher salaries, and a general betterment of human life.

3) The death tax undermines the intent of a person's assets upon death. What about little Billy who had 40%+ of his inheritance stolen by the US government? Huh?! Look at Billy's sad face!

4) The amount of the tax is ridiculous and is only going to be raised. Estates are taxed from anywhere from 37% to 55%![2] How would some failing privately-owned companies possibly survive after a hit like that? The death tax encourages the downfall of many American companies.

5) Morally, it is simply wrong to tax a person's death. A family is already grieving, so who are we to take possible millions of dollars from that family? That's like watching your uncle die only to have the doctor steal your wallet. The death tax is just plain wrong.

----Conclusion----

Thus far, my opponent has not provided one single argument. I have provided five. The winner so far is obvious.

Thank you for your time. VOTE PRO!!!

----References----

[1] http://www.heritage.org...
[2] http://www.policyalmanac.org...
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Con

Thanks for taking the debate, PoeJoe.

My opponent's first point was the premise for the debate is flawed because the West African executor of wills I used as an example was likely to be a fraudster. This is a slur on the Nigerian legal profession! But never mind that, the inheritance could just as easily come from some prosperous relative that lives in the same town.

He then went on to make the following arguments:

"1) The death tax would mean double taxation at two different time periods. Property would be taxed once on purchase and then again on death. This is referred to as double dipping which is not only logically wrong, but legally wrong as well."

No, it's not double dipping, it's quadruple dipping! You pay the purchase tax (stamp duty), the estate tax (death duty) but also income tax on the money earned to buy the property plus sales tax (VAT) on the labour and materials used to maintain or improve the property. However, there is nothing illogical or illegal in this – the government raises taxes in many different ways, some of the more imaginative methods of raising public funds are referred to as "stealth taxes".

"2) …why give the money to a government known for over spending… when it could be used for further investment in America's biggest companies?"

Because corporations are run for the benefit of their shareholders and any extra income would be paid to them in the form of dividends. It could be that these shareholders may decide to donate this extra income to their local school or hospital but this cannot be guaranteed – if it was me I'd buy a brand new convertible Lamborghini, drive it down to Monaco and spend a week sitting by the pool in the Grand Hotel Monte Carlo or gambling away my new found wealth in the Casino Royale!

"2a) In following with the above argument, repealing the death tax would remove the disincentive for company owners not to expand their business later in life…"

Elderly company owners have every incentive to expand their companies – they want their businesses to continue to grow after their death so that their beneficiaries will continue to benefit. To liquidise the assets to try and avoid death tax would be a false economy as if the capital raised was subsequently bequeathed legally it would be subject to tax and if done illegally and the taxman discovered this, the entire amount would be seized.

"3) The death tax undermines the intent of a person's assets upon death. What about little Billy who had 40%+ of his inheritance stolen by the US government? Huh?! Look at Billy's sad face!"

Poor Billy. He'll just have to go out and earn his own money like most people have to. Never mind though, at least he will have the consoling thought that the tax will be spent funding schools and hospitals helping boys and girls that don't have filthy-rich relatives.

"4) The amount of the tax is ridiculous and is only going to be raised. Estates are taxed from anywhere from 37% to 55%![2] How would some failing privately-owned companies possibly survive after a hit like that? The death tax encourages the downfall of many American companies."

Taxes have to be raised somehow. If not through inheritance tax, which is only paid by the wealthy, the lost revenue will have to be raised by taxing the middle and working classes more instead. With regard to the second point, the company is not wound up on the death of its owner but his shares are transferred to his beneficiaries and the beneficiary pays the tax, not the company.

"5) Morally, it is simply wrong to tax a person's death. A family is already grieving, so who are we to take possible millions of dollars from that family?"

The family may be grieving but the money paid to them from the deceased's estate, albeit minus death duties, will no doubt be of some comfort to them.

The rich will almost always find ways to evade tax. As multi-billionaire Nicholas Ferguson, chairman of SVG Capital said: "highly paid executives (working for his firm) pay less tax than a cleaning lady".

http://www.guardian.co.uk...

Inheritence taxes are one of the few means whereby the wealthy are obliged to make some financial contribution to the cost of running the country. If the rich did not have to pay inheritences tax, the ordinary citizen would have to pay higher taxes to make up for the lost revenue.

In view of this I urge you all to vote Con!
PoeJoe

Pro

----Flawed Premise Redux----

In the comments section of this debate, my opponent has indicated that his premise was comically inspired. Phew!-- Imagine my relief to know that one of my fellow debaters wasn't actually being scammed! I will be able to sleep well now. Hurray! Where are the balloons?

----In Defense of My Arguments----

1) I concede my first argument. Thank you for opening my eyes.

2) My second argument (that the money is better spent by the company than the corrupt government) still stands. My opponent's claims that inherited money would be spent on gambling are completely unreferenced. My argument, however, is verified by a renowned economics professor who works at Pepperdine University.[4] Seriously brian_eggleston, whom do you think the audience is going to trust? You, or the professor?

2a) Again, my opponent's claims are completely unreferenced. Is the audience going to believe a regular everyday debater, or a renowned think tank? My argument that the death tax hurts America's companies still stands.

3) My argument that the death tax undermines the intent of a person's assets upon death still stands. Sure, some people have an economical advantage over others, but so what? That does not justify stealing 40%+ of a person's assets upon death! It is the right of a dieing person to freely give his money to whom he wants. The government is terrible with spending money! We are already spending 400+ billion dollars that does not exist every year while having a 9.4+ trillion dollar deficit. We must let a dieing person give his money to exactly who he wants for the exact amount he wants.

4) My argument that the death tax is ridiculously high, and that the wealthy already pay too much taxes still stands. My opponent's concerns are addressed in the "Counterarguments and Conclusion" section.

5) My moral argument stating that it is simply wrong to tax a person's death still stands mainly because it was never truly addressed. My opponent wrote that "the money paid to them from the deceased's estate, albeit minus death duties, will no doubt be of some comfort to them." Okay, but that does not undermine the fact that as a society, we taxed a persons death. Please address the real argument.

----A Reminder----

By the common rules of debate, my opponent may not introduce any new arguments in his closing argument. If he does however, it must be ignored. Thank you.

----Counterarguments and Conclusion----

So far in this whole entire debate, my opponent has provided only one argument. That argument is:

"Inheritence (sic) taxes are one of the few means whereby the wealthy are obliged to make some financial contribution to the cost of running the country. If the rich did not have to pay inheritences (sic) tax, the ordinary citizen would have to pay higher taxes to make up for the lost revenue."

What does my opponent use to prove all this? Just one single quote from a man who is neither an economy export nor a CEO! In truth, he is nothing more than an artist and a television director![1]

Why does my opponent use such a shady resource? Because he knows he is wrong! In fact, the wealthy already pay too much taxes. Far too much. In America for instance, the top 1% of income earners pay more income tax than the bottom 90%.[2] The Top 5% of taxpayers pay 50% of ALL taxes.[3] And while "The Top 1% of income earners (comprising about 1 million families) earn about 15% of the total income earned by all wage earners in the United States... they pay almost 30% of all individual income taxes".[3]

Let's face it: We live in a capitalist society. A society where when the major corporations benefit, we as a society benefit as well. We benefit because the companies will be able to lower prices and increase our wages. We benefit because our lives are enhanced that much more. Abolishing the death tax would help this ideal. We must abolish the death tax.

Thank you for your time. VOTE PRO!

----References----

[1] http://www.nicholasfergusonpaintings.com...
[2] http://taxprof.typepad.com...
[3] http://www.allegromedia.com...
[4] http://www.capitalism.net...
Debate Round No. 2
brian_eggleston

Con

First of all, I would like to congratulate my opponent on the consistently high quality of his debate. I mean this quite genuinely, and I hope I don't appear to be patronising, but this is especially outstanding as my opponent is still just a teenager (as he pointed out in the comments section). However, I should like to remind the voters that all is fair in love and war - and debating - and so the best man (or boy) should win, based on the overall force of his arguments, regardless of his age!

In my opponent's response he referred to my assertion that shareholders benefiting from free money accrued to them from inheritance taxes would not necessarily be spent altruistically was unsupported by any references. I don't believe any research has been conducted into the matter and I believe that is because it is self-evident. Think about it. If you found a lottery ticket on the ground and it turned out to be the winning ticket and you collected a cheque for ten million dollars, would you donate it all to your local school and hospital? Some of you might give some of it to good causes, but I bet (but cannot prove) that most of you would keep at least some of it for you and your friends and family.

Talking about references, by the way, my opponent provided the following link to support his argument:

http://www.nicholasfergusonpaintings.com......

Nice paintings, yes, but how does some posh bloke flogging his artwork online support my opponent's argument?

The rest of my opponent's argument reaffirms his belief that imposing inheritance tax on high-value estates amounts to "stealing" from the rich. This is a moral argument – a matter of personal conscience. If you, my dear voters, believe that Robin Hood would have been a bigger hero if he had gone about Sherwood Forest mugging peasants and handing over the proceeds of his crimes to the Sheriff of Nottingham, in order to make the evil rural toff even richer than he already was, then you should vote for my opponent.

If, on the other hand, you know that the rich already routinely evade paying taxes, thus putting an extra financial burden on ordinary, hardworking families, and that tax cheats cost the lives of 1,000 children per day, and that estate taxes are one of the few opportunities society has to oblige grasping, cheating super-rich to pay their fair share for a change, then you should vote for me.

http://www.independent.co.uk...

I thank you in advance for your kind support.
PoeJoe

Pro

----Tanks----

Thanks for the compliment brian_eggleston. You have been quite the formidable opponent, so I means a lot coming from you. I appreciate it.

----Counterarguments and Conclusion----

My opponent begins his argument by asserting that money inherited from the death tax would be spent selfishly. I can only assume (because my opponent did not directly say so) that instead, he wants the money to the government-- a government that spends 400+ billion nonexistent dollars every year, while having a 9.4+ trillion dollar deficit. Surely, the money is much better inherited by the (future) company owners-- that was my argument. An argument that my opponent has never addressed.

My opponent then goes on to catch my source, as I accidentally identified the wrong Nicholas Ferguson. I am truly embarrassed. However, my argument still stands. Why does my opponent's argument (that the wealthy do not pay enough taxes) rely SOLELY on 1 quote from 1 lawyer? Because my opponent could not find any better source to prove his claim. Please brian_eggleston, reread the following argument that you never addressed:

"In America for instance, the top 1% of income earners pay more income tax than the bottom 90%. The Top 5% of taxpayers pay 50% of ALL taxes. And while 'The Top 1% of income earners (comprising about 1 million families) earn about 15% of the total income earned by all wage earners in the United States... they pay almost 30% of all individual income taxes'."

My opponent then goes on to address my moral argument-- it is wrong to steal from the rich. He cites Robin Hood: "If you, my dear voters, believe that Robin Hood would have been a bigger hero if he had gone about Sherwood Forest mugging peasants and handing over the proceeds of his crimes to the Sheriff of Nottingham, in order to make the evil rural toff even richer than he already was..." However, his Robin Hood example is completely untranslatable (and not to mention fictional). The peasants were dying from poverty! In today's modern society, there is very little of such suffering: There are shelters, government programs, churches, and many many more alternatives. Obviously, his Robin Hood proof does not hold.

But there's more! He asserts that a thousand children pass away because of the rich evading taxes. Again, I question his sources-- a simple charity's statistics? Besides their obvious bias, they do not have the resources to conduct surveys on such a complex issue.

Instead, I urge the audience to review my statistics-- statistics that are (for the most part) from the US government. Again, it comes down to sources. I've got renowned economics professors, an award winning think tank, and government statistics on my side. My opponent? A quote from a lawyer. And a single charity's statistics. Who are you, the audience, going to trust?

Thank you for your time. I'm sure both brian_eggleston and I appreciate it.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by surfride 8 years ago
surfride
Hey, there was a major flaw in your sources, pojoe, the fact that your income tax percentage numbers were about 10 years old. This is 2008, not an estimate for 1999.
Posted by bthr004 8 years ago
bthr004
The problem with the death tax runs much deeper than discussed,... The death tax taxes based on net worth of the deceased and the (including value of assets, and liquidity,)...

The problem,... A small business operator, or farmer as most common in the USA,... could easily have a net value of 1 - 2 million US $,... But only have liquidity or net annual earings of $80,000 roughly,... The net value of the dead's assets come from machinery, land, buildings, equiptment, tools, etc. etc. So if the govt. makes the estate pay 40% tax on the value of the estate net worth, that could come close to half a million US dollars,... Pretty hard to pay out if one is only making $80,000. This problem has left families no choice but to sell off and downsize, lay off employees, and all but maybe even close the business down,...

The death tax and estate tax should only include value of liquid or short term gains, and not intermediate, or productive asset value.
Posted by Josh 8 years ago
Josh
There should be votes for being funny.
Looks like it went straight over PoeJoe's head.
Posted by LR4N6FTW4EVA 8 years ago
LR4N6FTW4EVA
While this debate was very, very close, my vote goes to PoeJoe, he defended four out of five of his points very well, and brian_eggleston dropped a few points, including the point about the wealthy already paying high taxes. Also, in R2, brian_eggleston says "Because corporations are run for the benefit of their shareholders and any extra income would be paid to them in the form of dividends. It could be that these shareholders may decide to donate this extra income to their local school or hospital but this cannot be guaranteed – if it was me I'd buy a brand new convertible Lamborghini, drive it down to Monaco and spend a week sitting by the pool in the Grand Hotel Monte Carlo or gambling away my new found wealth in the Casino Royale!"

He forgets (or neglects to mention) that this is beneficial to the economy, and will help the workers at the Lamborghini factory, and the employees of the Grand Hotel Monte Carlo and the Casino Royale.
Posted by PoeJoe 8 years ago
PoeJoe
...and not to mention a lawyer who picks on teenagers. *cries*
Posted by PoeJoe 8 years ago
PoeJoe
OMG! You're British? I should have guessed by the way you write.
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
"Inheritence (sic) taxes are one of the few means whereby the wealthy are obliged to make some financial contribution to the cost of running the country. If the rich did not have to pay inheritences (sic) tax, the ordinary citizen would have to pay higher taxes to make up for the lost revenue."

OMG! The shame, the degradation! I hate spelling mistakes! Well spotted, PoeJoe!

I will reply to your arguments anon!
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
The Nigerian email example was just a joke, of course! As a former lawyer myself, I can assure you that a probate lawyer will never require advance payment for the execution of a will as his fees are paid from directly from the estate rather than by the beneficiaries.

In other words, unless you are a Nigerian ex-pat, any such email you receive is almost certainly part of a scam!
Posted by PoeJoe 8 years ago
PoeJoe
Err... I decided to post. Work suxs!
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
That's fine PoeJoe, no hurry, I have a lot on myself too and could do with a bit of breathing space!
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