Responses To Todds Letter

To The Editor:

I cannot tell you how irritated I was upon reading the letter from Stanton W. Todd III. While it may be presumptuous, inasmuch as poor folks do not typically have III after their names, it is my guess that Mr. Todd has had the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth most of his life. While I admit to my presumptions, I think he has unfairly presumed things in his response to Jack Bobos April 28 column. As I recall, Mr. Bobo did not suggest anything about sales taxes in his column.

I would suggest, in response to Mr. Todd, that transferring a tax that touches only the wealthiest among us and dropping it on the general populace is totally inappropriate. While the elimination of the “stepped up” basis rules may seem fair to Mr. Todd, I deem it grossly unfair to transfer these taxes to every American who happens, fortunately, to own a piece of appreciated property and wishes to transfer the value or property to his or her heirs. In my case, the threat of this change has forced a revamping of the estate plan where a property had, previously, been designated for transfer to the grandson.

Further, I would suggest that the elimination of the “stepped up” basis rule would strike, disproportionately, at those who live in areas of the country where, for demographic and economic reasons, property values are increasing rather than those who remain in the “rust belt” and other areas where values are flat.

Mr. Todd further suggests that by this change we will allow more families to keep the family home so, maybe, the question is, “How many families, as a percentage of the population, still live in the home where they grew up?” I would suggest that, as a percentage, the figure is extremely low and, thus, his argument is specious. If Mr. Todd thinks that the elimination of the “stepped up” basis rule, as a substitute for the estate tax is fair, I suggest he is the one who should have a problem keeping a straight face. Forced liquidations? Mr. Todd youve got to be kidding me.

Sy Black, CLU
Anaheim, Calif.

To The Editor:

Your May 19 issue had a letter by Stanton Todd III, criticizing Jack Bobos favoring of retaining aspects of the estate tax. Mr. Todd III cited the common but fallacious pro-repeal arguments such as taxing “the same dollar” multiple times, losing the family farm or home, etc. Mr. Todd III and like-minded advisors need to read “Wealth and our Commonwealth, Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes” by William Gates Sr. and Chuck Collins. The father of one of the richest men in the world bears consideration.

Aside from all the hysteria, exaggerations and myths Gates and Collins easily lay to rest, theres the question of fairness. In my opinion, the best quote in the entire book is on page 79: “The alternative to taxing wealthy dead people is to tax living working people. Which is more fair?”

They go on to ask what kind of incentive system we want in America: wealth simply because one emerged from the right uterus or wealth based on entrepreneurship, hard work, intelligence, creativity and merit. You have to admit a few hundred thousand dollars is still a pretty good head start for any kid.

Finally, they point out a fact that seems to escape the vast majority of the wealthy who want estate tax repeal: Those who have reaped the most from our society (which, like it or not, government makes possible) owe the greatest debt to it.

Gary Duell, MBA, ChFC
Happy Valley, Ore.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, June 23, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved. Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.