Big Picture: Raise the Estate Tax

Robert Reich tells us why we have to raise--not lower--the Estate Tax on the wealthiest Americans.

In the Big Picture, the richest 1% of Americans now have 42% of the nation's entire wealth, while the bottom 90% have just 23%. This is a greater concentration of wealth at the top than at any other time since the Gilded Age of the late 1800s, yet today the estate tax reaches only the richest 0.2% and applies to amounts in excess of $10.86 million for married couples or $5.43 million for individuals. Instead of eliminating the tax on inherited wealth, we should increase it, because:

Adjusted for inflation, the estate tax restored to its late 1990s, boom-economy level would today touch estates valued at $874,000 dollars.

That increase would raise $448 billion over the next 10 years. That's way more than enough to finance ten years of universal preschool and two free years of community college for all eligible students.

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