Letter to the Editor: The Death Tax
The state must do away with this nuisance, which is detrimental to people of all income levels.
To the Editor:
When I first heard of Gov. Tom Corbett boasting of removal of the state’s uniquely cruel, grave-robbing death/inheritance tax, I was excited, as I have long advocated with state officials for its elimination as one who has been victimized by it
Then I read further and in disappointment, discovered that the relief applies only to family farms, the tip of the iceberg.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states that continues to impose its own death/inheritance tax, and although most talk throughout the nation is about the federal levy, the Keystone State imposes one which is far more onerous and inequitable than that of Uncle Sam, which exempts most estates from taxation.
Depending upon the relationship of the heir to the decedent, Pennsylvania snatches between 4.5 to 15 percent of every dollar of an estate unless the heir is a surviving spouse. It impacts the individual who is inheriting his mother’s or brother’s $10,000 home just as it does the individual who has been gifted a residence worth $2 million, and in many instances, it forces the sale of the property in order to meet the demand of the Commonwealth to pay up. The tax encompasses virtually all possessions being transferred from the decedent, including real estate, bank accounts, and personal effects.
Why does the Commonwealth impose this levy? Certainly not because it is fair or the right thing to do, but because it can. Much of the property being taxed was already taxed to the decedent.
I am pleased that Gov. Corbett has come to understand the misery inflicted on families at the worst hour of their lives through the state death tax. He needs to do additional work to remove this noose from around the necks not only of family farmers but all whose lives have been negatively impacted by it.
The death tax contributes about 3 percent of Commonwealth revenues. If that amount must be replaced in order to fund state spending, surely there is a more humane and honorable means of achieving it than by robbing the graves of not only the wealthy, but the middle class and the poor.
Upper St. Clair