After reading a bit on the British version of the inheritance tax over at the Adam Smith Institute Blog, I got to thinking about that whole deal here on the west side of the pond.
Just to make things clear right away, I am as opposed to any form of inheritance (or death, if you will) tax the government can possibly think of.
I was thinking to myself (seeing as my roommate would have no interest in hearing my contemplations) that not only are we taxed when we work, but we are taxed when we shop, when we invest, when we retire, and when we die! I have, most assuredly, left out something that we are taxed for, but I have neither the time nor the patience to find out what that may be.
I seem to recall the 18th century, when our humble central government survived on duties gathered from liquor and tobacco products alone. These small excise taxes led to the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. Sure the higher tax rate for small producers over larger competitors was a big reason for the rebellion, but can you imagine what would have come from quadruple-taxation, and worse?!
I must say our national government must be supremely thrilled that we haven't rioted through the streets demanding our money back. The Framers must be reeling in their graves and begging God to reincarnate them so they can give Congress their comeuppance for being such greedy swine. President Washington would throw a fit of astronomical proportions over current congressional salaries.
All history aside, our current tax system is simply outrageous. If a tax on labor isn't disturbing enough, then surely a tax on gasoline and liquor and tobacco products, a tax on nearly all goods, a tax on dividends and capital gains, and a tax on the estates of the recently deceased surely take the cake. The last tax mentioned, affectionately referred to as the "death tax" is so abhorrent, I can hardly put it into words. For those estates just barely over the threshold of qualification, half of the assets to be given to the next generation are seized by the federal government (or more accurately, 46% for 2006). If these assets include a family-owned business and a modestly-sized house, one of the two must be relinquished.
It is a sad state of affairs in which a nation must steal from the families of the dead to pay their own debts because they don't know when to set down the checkbook. Thankfully this wretched tax will be phased out in 2010 once and for all ...