The only appropriate death tax is 100%

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

(Posted in response to a conversation on Hacker News)

The only appropriate death tax is 100%. The goal is not to raise money for the government, the goal is to protect society from oligarchy. Most oligarchs come from wealthy families — that kind of vast wealth accumulates over the course of generations.

So as to allow minor things, such as a house, to pass from parents to children, a low level exemption is reasonable, so the tax does not touch the poor or middle classes. Suppose the first $5 million are tax-free. That is more generous than the current system, and since $5 million is too small an amount to lead to oligarchy, it should not raise any concerns. But beyond $5 million, the appropriate tax should be 100% — all of the wealth should go back to the society from whence it came. We should reward people for the wealth they create in their lifetime, but we should treat their children as autonomous adults who must also create their own wealth in their own lifetime.

The money raised from such a tax can help give poor children something to start with in life, and thus such a tax allows each child of each generation to start off with roughly equal assets. Thus everyone’s accomplishments in life become truly their own, rather than being partly their own and partly their ancestors. The over-reliance on ancestors is a sad state of affairs that holds for many children of the wealthy.

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