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Trump Pushes $7 Billion Estate Tax Giveaway for His Kids

August 1, 2016

Throughout the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump's water carriers repeatedly praised the pretend populist as a "blue-collar billionaire." Given his inherited wealth and decades-long record of scorched-earth business practices, that title was always comical on its face. But there's nothing funny about the payday for plutocrats Trump has in mind if elected President. His gargantuan tax cuts for gilded class would drain up to $12 trillion from the U.S. Treasury over a decade while handing the top 0.1 percent of income earners an average savings of $1.3 million per year. And as one recent analysis concluded, Donald Trump's plan to eliminate the federal estate tax would redirect up to $7 billion from Uncle Sam to his own kids.
The 40 percent estate tax is levied on fortunes over roughly $.5.5 million per person ($11 for a couple). Paid by just 2 in a 1000 estates, the tax impacts almost no small businesses and family farms. But as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned last year, its repeal would drain $269 billion from the federal government over 10 years. As The Hill reported, among the handful of beneficiaries of its elimination would be Donald Trump's heirs:

Donald Trump's family would get a $7.1 billion tax cut under the Republican presidential nominee's proposal to eliminate the federal estate tax, a centrist think tank estimated...
Instead of giving Trump's heirs a windfall, Congress could spend that $7.1 billion on expanding Pell Grants for three years, funding efforts to find a cure for cancer for seven years, finance career and technical education and skills for a generation and support electric-grid investments for more than 10 years, Third Way said.
The think tank came up with the $7.1 billion figure by estimating that Trump's estate would be valued at $17.7 billion in 2030, the year actuarial tables estimate that Trump's family would inherit the money.

In all likelihood, the heirs of President Trump would pocket much less. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explained, thanks to a bevy of generous deductions and loopholes, the effective estate rate is just 16.6 percent. (That's why study after study shows the estate tax repeal will harm charitable giving, as wealthy Americans lose that incentive to reduce their tax bills.)
But there's one more reason Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany and Donald Junior would walk away with much less after The Donald is no more. That's because the self-proclaimed $10 billion man is almost surely worth much, much less. As ThinkProgress pointed out earlier this month:

Financial media outlets have estimated what they think the mogul is worth, but none have ever come close to backing Trump's claim of $10 billion. When Bloomberg ran a tally this week of all of his major assets, including stock holdings and the value of properties like golf courses and luxury towers, it came up with $3 billion. Forbes, after interviews with 80 sources and a piece by piece look at Trump's empire, concluded $4.5 billion.
The Bloomberg analysis, however, relies at least in part on statements Trump himself made in financial disclosure forms, while Forbes has always had to rely on information given by the Trump Organization -- and Forbes has admitted that Trump consistently pushes for a higher valuation. Fortune also caught him conflating revenue and income in his campaign filing reports and thereby significantly inflating how much income he says he has.

Of course, Trump could end the confusion by, among other things, releasing his tax returns just like every other major party presidential candidate since 1976. That would help voters get a better handle on his income and to what degree, if any, his charitable giving would offset his final tax bill. Instead, all we know is that President Trump would give himself and his children a massive tax cut now, and a huge windfall later.
At the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump proclaimed himself the "voice" of "the forgotten men and women of our country." But when it comes to the question of just who will pay to fill the hole created by President Trump's largesse to his own children, that "voice" is silent about the answer.
You will.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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