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Pennsylvania's Inheritance Tax ... it's illogical, unconstitutional and should be abolished
Pittsburgh Tribune Review ^ | March 24, 2002 | C.J. Durkin

Posted on 04/03/2002 5:28:07 AM PST by Dukie

Edited on 04/13/2004 2:02:28 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

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To: Dukie
I'm definitely not about to defend death taxes, as they are one of the most repugnant creatures known to man, but I do have to take issue with the author's reliance on the "equal protection" clause of the USC. Of all the provisions within the Constitution, that one has been just about the most abused - and abused in such a way as to cause the most abuse of power. "Protection" of the laws simply means that if someone violates your rights, he will be punished. "Equal" protection means that he will be punished regardless of whether you're black, white, indigo, immigrant, criminal fugitive, whatever. It does not say that all laws must oblige everyone equally. Child labor laws, indecent exposure laws (which vary according to gender), legal qualifications for drivers' and other licenses - all these operate on some people differently than others without serious challenge, and in any case do not conflict with the phrase, "equal protection of the laws".
51 posted on 04/03/2002 7:34:27 AM PST by inquest
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To: Dukie; all
The reference to the fourth amendment is interesting. It's something that's been rattling around in my brain for a long time: Does it not violate the 4th to have inspections for various types of health and safety codes, such as a building inspection whenever someone wants to sell his house? It seems like challenging it would open up a whole new can o' worms, and yet, I can't see exactly how to justify these practices.
52 posted on 04/03/2002 7:49:23 AM PST by inquest
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To: inquest
Thanks for your input, inquest. The examples you cite all relate to some objective criteria concerning the law's applicability. Driving and child labor laws are based upon attainment of a certain age as indicative of physical ability and responsibility. The same with airman's certificates and physical performance standards for positions in public safety occupations. What the author is questioning here is the relation ship based rates which are discriminatory along the same lines as would be the case if tax rates were age or race based.
53 posted on 04/03/2002 8:06:01 AM PST by Dukie
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To: Dales; Dukie
". . . least favorite types of taxes are . . . "

My least favorite taxes are those that have the word 'tax' as part of their name. ;-)

54 posted on 04/03/2002 8:10:24 AM PST by Badray
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To: Dukie; joanie-f
The tax also smacks of social engineering in that its historical foundation is an attempt to move concentrations of wealth in future generations so as to create, through government dictate, more economic parity.

Hi Dukie! This statement from joanie-f (already posted elsewhere -- hope you don't mind the reprise) nails the single most egregious thing about inheritance taxation in the above italics, IMHO. Yet hardly anybody ever questions this. Somehow or other, we are conditioned to believe that the idea of social engineering in the name of (somebody's strange idea of) "social justice" is just a dandy thing. At least, we don't bother to object.

But think about it!!! In the first place, what is the basis of the assumption that to run wealth through the hands of politicians serves "social justice" any better than to leave that wealth in private hands -- subject to private decision making and market forces? An heir could invest his inheritance profitably, creating economic opportunities for others beyond himself -- jobs. Or he could squander his inheritance altogether -- which has the same effect.

What I want to know is: Who really owns the inherited property? The decedent's estate? The heir? or the government? The surest test of title is who has the power of conversion of the underlying property. If the government -- federal or state -- can force the conversion -- i.e., the sale -- of property to satisfy a tax lien -- and can set the rate of tax unilaterally, and impose it unequally -- then doesn't the government effectively own it? I mean, they might let you keep a bit of what you thought was yours. Well isn't that nice.

Then you've got to wonder -- where is the constitutional authority for the government to treat people differently? I thought we were a system of equal justice under law, not a system of equal results determined by a rule of men. The government has absolutely zero constitutional warrant/authority to be in the so-called "social justice" business, which necessarily involves discriminating among citizens and classifying them into groups, for the purpose of advantaging some and disadvantaging others. But the government cannot legitimately be in the business of picking winners and losers, and trying to deliver certain outcomes. It's in the "means business," not the "ends business."

Glad to encourage folks who see inheritance taxation as the nightmare it really is -- constitutionally, economically -- especially when they do it as well as you have done. Why a free people puts up with this sort of thing is beyond my understanding. All my best, bb.

55 posted on 04/03/2002 8:16:52 AM PST by betty boop
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To: inquest
Does it not violate the 4th to have inspections for various types of health and safety codes, such as a building inspection whenever someone wants to sell his house?

I believe one can refuse to admit the property assessor on such grounds, but then if one appeals the valuation, the only way to get your appeal heard may be to submit to such inspection.

As regards to inspections related to the exchange of real estate, since borrowed money is usually involved, the lender may make them a requirement for the mortgage. However between two willing parties and particularly without 3rd party government ( FHA, etc. ) financing, it seems the governments have no legitimate role in placing conditions on the sale.

56 posted on 04/03/2002 8:18:08 AM PST by Dukie
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To: Badray; shethink13
Hey Ray ! I'll see you this evening !

shethink, what do 'youthink' of this ?

57 posted on 04/03/2002 8:22:43 AM PST by Dukie
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To: Dukie
I know I'm walking into a mine field, but this is a real sticking point for me. The 14th amendment makes no distinction between race-based, age-based, relationship-based, or ability-based criteria. It also contains no escape clause for "compelling state interest", in the words of that thoroughly obnoxious phrase that judges love to use (and which in my opinion should be viewed as them signing their own impeachment warrants): Either it's prohibited or it's not prohibited, regardless of how "legitimate" the reason might seem.

I don't mean to be harping on you at all, it's just the system that I'm frustrated with. I have a real problem with judges who make up the law as it feels convenient to them.

58 posted on 04/03/2002 8:26:24 AM PST by inquest
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To: betty boop
Why a free people puts up with this sort of thing is beyond my understanding.

Why, it's because we're a "democracy", so it must be OK! The ulimate wolf in sheep's clothing.

59 posted on 04/03/2002 8:32:57 AM PST by inquest
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To: Dukie; mountaineer
Ahhh, you put my name next to MurryMom. Ahhhhh again.

mountaineer, you don't have any hospitals that I would go to either in your state.

Good article Dukie, thanks.

60 posted on 04/03/2002 8:46:45 AM PST by AGreatPer
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To: Dukie
Re: the 4th amendment. Another hang-up for me is that states have been levying property taxes (which necessarily involve inspection) since before the Constitution was even written, and said document even gave the federal government the power to levy such taxes under certain circumstances. So I'm hesitant to automatically assume that the 4th amendment, which, along with the rest of the first 10, was pushed for by the states, actually condemned one of the mainstays of their revenue systems. My working hypothesis, then, is that the 4th amendment is only a prohibition on arbitrary executive action, not legislative acts. Care to know what you think.
61 posted on 04/03/2002 8:59:38 AM PST by inquest
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To: AGreatPer
Oh, my goodness ! I assure you that I'll not make a similar error in table seating arrangements at any FR banquets.

Knowing you rub shoulders with the powerful, perhaps you'll ask them when we can expect action to rescind this travesty.

62 posted on 04/03/2002 9:14:23 AM PST by Dukie
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To: Dukie
"Knowing you rub shoulders with the powerful, perhaps you'll ask them when we can expect action to rescind this travesty."

I copied the article and will bring it up with George Gekas when I have coffie with him tomorrow or Friday. We BS a lot. The other day we were discussing the high increase in gas. Sure enough, he is making waves on the subject today.

Also, I'll see Santorums aid next week and again will bring it up. This sounds like something some politician should want to put their teeth into.

63 posted on 04/03/2002 9:25:28 AM PST by AGreatPer
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To: Dukie
Oh, c'mon Keystoners, we're only stealing 4.5% now, not 6% like before. You should be happy we're stealing so much less.
64 posted on 04/03/2002 9:33:49 AM PST by Petronski
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To: betty boop
Hello betty & thanks for your thought provoking insights. In regard to the question of who owns the estate, I believe that tax leins are senior to other claims against the property, so that points to a pretty clear answer.

On line 13 - fittingly enough - of the inheritance tax form, the bureaucrats responsible for collections even give you the opportunity to make "governmental bequests" which reduce the base on which the tax is calculated. Makes one long for a return to the good old days of tar and feathers.

65 posted on 04/03/2002 9:39:43 AM PST by Dukie
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To: AGreatPer
Thanks for carrying the torch, AGP. Perhaps their word to our state house associates will carry some weight in getting the folks in Harrisburg to start the wheels turning. I'm sending this off to the Commonwealth foundation, too.
66 posted on 04/03/2002 9:46:10 AM PST by Dukie
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To: Petronski
And it's such a pro family tax, too ! If you leave anything to your mistresses and illegitimate offspring, they charge them 15% !
67 posted on 04/03/2002 9:57:13 AM PST by Dukie
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To: inquest
Perhaps you meant to say judicial action. IMHO Amendment 4 cannot be construed to pertain only to the executive since it references warrants which are issued by the judiciary. Under the reasoning of the last sentence in your post :the 4th amendment is only a prohibition on arbitrary executive action, not legislative acts. one gets into a loop where checks and balances are bypassed , surely contrary to the intent of the framers.
68 posted on 04/03/2002 10:15:43 AM PST by Dukie
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To: all
I must leave for awhile, please continue & thanks for your comments.
69 posted on 04/03/2002 10:18:14 AM PST by Dukie
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To: Dukie
Yes, you're right. It protects against judicial and executive action - the judicial from issuing warrants for the wrong reason, and the executive from arbitrarily searching without warrants at all, or at least without probable cause, in cases where there's no time to consult a judge.

But my point is that when the executive branch is carrying out acts of legislation - such as tax inspection - it may not violate the "unreasonable search" standard, as the founders intended it to mean.

70 posted on 04/03/2002 10:30:45 AM PST by inquest
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To: Dukie
From another thread of yesterday:

Chris and I both lost our beloved Dads within a couple of weeks time at the end of last year. And we were both designated executors of our Dads' estates. We not only compared notes regarding the loss of the two men who were the greatest influences in our lives, but we also compared notes as to how the state of Pennsylvania profits through its unconstitutional (both state and federal) inheritance tax.

Chris's article in the Trib-Review really encapsulates the obscenity known as the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax, in that the tax defies the uniformity on the same class of subjects clause of the PA Constitution. The tax also smacks of social engineering in that its historical foundation is an attempt to move concentrations of wealth in future generations so as to create, through government dictate, more economic parity. The fourth and fifth amendments to the US Constitution are also assaulted through this tax, since provisions in it come very close to (if not define) unreasonable search and seizure, and the requirement to self-incrimination.

Chris hits all bases in his article. It would be nice if some of our state legislators would read it, and take it to heart. They need not wait for the courts to declare the tax unconstitutional (not that such a logical step is even in the works). A simple repeal is in order. But, being the realists that we are, Chris and I are not holding our mutual breaths awaiting that particular turn of events....yet he is being about as pro-active in this regard as a citizen of the commonwealth can be, having done much research into the subject, and written so eloquently regarding his findings.

71 posted on 04/03/2002 9:18:41 PM PST by joanie-f
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To: joanie-f; xsmommy
Good morning, joanie and thank you for adding your encouraging thoughts amplifying on our earlier off-forum conversations about this matter.

Our local group here in the western part of the state convened last night for its' monthly meeting and this article was a starting point for several discussions concerning failures of elected officials - both executives and legislators - to make matters of constitutionality the essential prerequisite of every exercise of the power with which they are entrusted. The reason of course lies in human nature, that the scope of power tends to increase and stray ever further from its moorings until checked and contained by the grantors of its authority.

As you and so many eloquent posters here on FR have written, education is the key to a popular restoration of government faithful to constitutional principles. Given the woeful public "education" in which many of our countrymen have been schooled, a brilliant suggestion was advanced that in order to reach those we sometimes disparage as "sheep", we undertake creating a primer along the lines of the famous black & yellow volumes to be entitled "Liberty for Dummies." Much like the apostles proclaiming the Gospel, engaging fellow citizens in thoughtful discussions on the topics of liberty is the key in trnsforming that docile flock into rams.

I always look forward to your inspiring posts and comments.

72 posted on 04/04/2002 5:41:14 AM PST by Dukie
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To: inquest
Good morning inquest.

As we saw in the questions surrounding the matter of trunk searches during traffic stops, the issue of reasonable versus unreasonable becomes a matter for the judiciary. We have to be vigilant in the protection of rights.

73 posted on 04/04/2002 5:48:54 AM PST by Dukie
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To: Dukie
the issue of reasonable versus unreasonable becomes a matter for the judiciary.

I don't know if I can quite accept that. I know they've claimed that power for themselves, just as they've claimed lots of powers for themselves. But I've always understood "unreasonable" in this case to simply mean arbitrary searches and seizures that would be illegal for any private citizen to commit against his neighbor. I put not my trust in the judiciary to "modify" it any further than that.

I agree with the "vigilant" part, though.

74 posted on 04/04/2002 7:18:59 AM PST by inquest
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