I read with interest a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal of Feb. 8, 2013, which notes that in 2012, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee repealed their state death/inheritance taxes, becoming the 32nd, 33rd, and 34th states to do so, and thereby causing Pennsylvania’s death tax to stick out even more as the sore thumb that it is. This levy snatches 4.5 to 15% of every dollar left to a Pennsylvania heir, including personal property, even money left in a bank account. The only exemptions are for a surviving spouse and for the heir to a family farm. There is currently legislation afloat in the General Assembly to eliminate the tax on one that inherits a business, but no bill to loosen this noose from around the necks of ordinary citizen heirs.
The Commonwealth sticks its hand into the grave of decedents to extract a pound of flesh at the worst time in the lives of grieving families. Governor Rendell did not lift a finger to lift this burden, to my knowledge never even addressing it. It is a levy which is unworthy of one like Tom Corbett, who has pledged to minimize the overall tax burden. If there is additional revenue to be garnered from an initiative such as the long overdue selling off of our monopoly state liquor stores, eliminating the death tax for all should be pursued rather than new spending. If there is not new revenue to enable the tax to be eliminated, then pereferably, spending would be cut to enable it to occur. In the alternative, some other, more equitable levy would be substituted to make up for any shortfall that would ensue.