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For several decades, total revenues raised by estate and gift taxes have roughly equalled those raised by excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Yet no law journal has ever asked me to write on alcohol or tobacco excise taxes. The law firms of America do not routinely have divisions devoted to excise tax planning. We do not hear of the suffering of widows and orphans (or even of farmers and small businesses) because of alcohol and tobacco taxes. Philosophers and economists do not routinely debate the merits of such taxes. Perhaps most significantly, increases in such excise taxes do not arouse fears that we are about to eliminate the concept of private property in this country and embrace socialism, or even communism. The estate tax, however, evokes just such responses.
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