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Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes Hardcover – January 16, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gates, whose son cofounded Microsoft and became the wealthiest man on the planet, teams up with Collins, program director of the nonprofit United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth, to explain why the government should continue to levy estate taxes on the fortunes of America's wealthiest citizens (which President Bush, advocating its elimination, has provocatively called the "death tax"). In reviewing the tax's history, the authors explain the Founding Fathers' concern with maintaining conditions of equitability that would enable any American with sufficient ambition and perseverance to accumulate a fortune within his lifetime without creating a new aristocracy. The robber barons of the Gilded Age thwarted those intentions, so the estate tax was established in 1916. The tax was controversial from its inception, and the authors reveal how carefully orchestrated efforts by a handful of wealthy families, think tanks and PR firms drummed up public opposition in the 1990s, even though the tax didn't apply to most Americans. Congress voted to repeal the estate tax in 2001. It's bad enough, Gates and Collins argue, that the government will lose $30 billion a year over the next decade because of the repeal; the loss is particularly keen given the cost of cleaning up after the September 11 attacks and fighting the subsequent war on terrorism. They've prepared an earnest manifesto, which may seem like locking the barn doors after the horse has fled, but this book could help create a sympathetic public perception by 2011, when, in a bizarre legal twist, the estate tax goes back on the books.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This defense of the controversial estate tax is offered by Gates, the father of the billionaire founder of Microsoft, and Collins, a tax advocate. The authors join forces to argue against the present presidential administration's proposed repeal of the estate tax, which is a transfer tax imposed on large accumulations of wealth at the death of the owners, and the authors estimate such repeal will cost $850 billion in tax revenue over the next 20 years. Although they acknowledge that wealth accrues to an individual through savvy and hard work, Gates and Collins also believe that society contributes to that individual's success through investments in education, economic development, heath care, and property rights protection, and a reformed estate tax is a legitimate return on society's investments. This book and its ideas that estate tax reform should focus upon the truly huge fortunes and earmark the revenue for uses such as education or Social Security will contribute to the ongoing debate on this important topic. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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