Monday, July 24, 2006

Deciding not to enforce the estate tax

A recent New York Times article noted that the Bush Administration has decided to gut estate tax enforcement by having the IRS fire 45% of its estate tax lawyers. The article quotes estate tax lawyer Sharyn Phillips to the effect that the cuts are a “back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax.”

Pretty unusual stuff, not to enforce a set of laws on the books that raise so much money relative to the IRS staff involved. And, of course, no surprise if estate tax lawyers don't like it, as it moves in the direction of an open invitation not to file estate tax returns even when legally due.

My first thought on reading the news was: Why doesn't Bush just invoke his war power claims to nullify the estate tax? After all, how can he fight terrorism if the U.S. economy is being hurt as much by the tax as he claims?

Indeed, since Grover Norquist, speaking on NPR in 2003, compared the estate tax to the Holocaust, why not have Bush simply proclaim that it IS terrorism?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have I got this right?? The IRS is gettin rid of estate tax lawyers, to cut down collecting estate tax, and today (8-20-06) there is a story in my newspaper by David Cay Johnson (NY Times News Service) that says the IRS is contracting with outside firms to collect back taxes from people who owe $25,00 or less. One of the firms hired employed someone (Juan Pena) who went to prison for bribary?? How does the administration get away with this stuff??