"No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered — not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective — a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."(Update 6/5/2015) Robert Reich agrees:
At a time of historic economic inequality, it should be a no-brainer to raise a tax on inherited wealth for the very rich.
The richest 1 percent of Americans now have 42 percent of the nation’s entire wealth, while the bottom 90 percent has just 23 percent.
That’s the greatest concentration of wealth at the top than at any time since the Gilded Age of the 1890s.
Instead of eliminating the tax on inherited wealth, we should increase it – back to the level it was in the late 1990s. The economy did wonderfully well in the late 1990s, by the way.
Adjusted for inflation, the estate tax restored to its level in 1998 would begin to touch estates valued at $1,748,000 per couple.
That would yield approximately $448 billion over the next ten years – way more than enough to finance ten years of universal preschool and two free years of community college for all eligible students.