Death Tax is government-sanctioned estate looting

Current discourse over the Death (or estate) Tax depicts troubling attitudes toward American wealth and property rights. While the generation of prosperity through hard work, creative thinking and discipline was once aspired to and celebrated, today’s world too often seems to begrudge success and foster a skeptical view that if someone is “rich,” perhaps they acquired it less than honestly or were undeservedly “lucky.” As the trickle-down value of wealth – did a poor man ever give you a job? – seems sadly lost, also being challenged is the concept that one’s earnings are their own to keep spend, save or reinvest/redistribute per their own accord. addresses the increasing use of probate venues and probate instruments (wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney) to perpetrate Involuntary Redistribution of Assets actions against the dead, disabled and incapacitated along with their families or other heirs/beneficiaries. We see property rights trampled as the legal system is used to loot estates by diverting lifelong accumulations of assets from a property owner’s intended recipients to never-intended or outside parties. The Death Tax is government-sponsored estate looting and is equally harmful as actions perpetrated by non-governmental grave robbers, asset looters and property poachers.

An estate tax discourages productivity and prosperity. It can thwart motivation and economic innovation – foundational principles on which this country was built.

Some wealthy Americans are joining a campaign started by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates in which participants pledge to give away at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity. Hooray for that. Every American should be free to determine the final distribution of their property.

It’s great if these folks want to give much of their money to charity, but it’s equally great if people want their children or other designated heirs to inherit their assets. In the vein of freedom, we support the right of Leona Helmsley and Gail Posner (though that case has some suspicious elements) to leave their estates to the care of dogs – the operative term being their money, assets or estates.

And if with death people want to turn their assets over to the government, that’s another option. Folks who claim they should pay more taxes are, in all reality, free at any point (in their life or upon death) to do exactly that. They just don’t have the freedom to force it on the rest of us.

So what’s the problem? Simply put, the Death Tax is government’s desire to confiscate assets for the further control and redistribution of wealth in this country. It’s a threat to basic American property rights as it sets a basis that government can arbitrarily establish conditions through which property must be relinquished upon demand.

If Death Tax proponents describe Americans wanting to keep what they’ve earned as “greedy,” what then do you call the U.S. government that does nothing to create or otherwise earn wealth, sometimes even hampers its generation yet boldly claims an entitlement to property upon its citizens’ deaths? Greedier seems a good start.

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at and a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas Foundation. Lou Ann may be contacted at

  • Sharon Denney, Seattle, WA

    You make excellent points, as usual.

    I have a hazy recollection of one of the Roosevelts, (Franklin or Teddy) wishing to impose estate taxes for the singular purpose reducing financial power to the same status as political power, which is to say, it terminates with the death of the holder. He thought that in the same way political power doesn’t pass to the children at the death of the holder, then neither should financial power. He was not looking at regular folks, but rather at the railroad barons who acquired a significant portion of the nation’s wealth – far more than could be used in many, many lifetimes etc. The thinking was that the system let trust fund babies feast for generations off anothers’ labor while the porters’ kids can’t earn enough to live.

    It’s become skewed now – we know what probate courts do, and we know that presidents’ sons can become president and political power accounts for some part of that. It’s hard to make a case for Bill Gates having “earned” the tens of billions he has (should he wish to)to pass on to his children and a hundred generations following them. A better solution might be to adjust the system so that it doesn’t let a single person with a great idea at the right time accumlate such a ludicrous amt of money. I guess that sounds like the dreaded C word – but it would effect or limit only something like.0000000000001 or less of the population.