The Baton Rouge morning line; how the Waltons get richer through estate tax loopholes | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Baton Rouge morning line; how the Waltons get richer through estate tax loopholes

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 7:50 AM

click to enlarge THE KINGFISH: IN BATON ROUGE.
  • THE KINGFISH: In Baton Rouge.
As Lindsey mentioned I'm on the road, currently in muggy Baton Rouge, where a morning stroll took me past Huey Long and his monunent (the state Capitol). I had cracklins and boudin balls at a Cajun convenience store just shy of the Atchafalaya, saw the cane fields nearing harvest, cruised by Tiger Stadium, ate some good fried shrimp at Parrains and otherwise have gotten back in touch with my lost youth.

I'm staying in a Hilton that once was the Heidelberg Hotel, something of an un-airconditioned flophouse when I stayed in it in 1968 during a high school trip to Louisiana's Youth and Government program. Ran for governor. Got beat by the New Orleans machine candidate. (That's my story and I"m sticking to it) In a state that was then as wonderfully interconnected as Arkansas, he happened to be the son of a former high school sweetheart of my father.

But back to business. Not much this morning, but there's this:

* HOW THE RICH (WALTONS) GET RICHER: A report from Bloomberg details how the Walton family has protected its billions from the tax man and other erosion.

America's richest family, worth more than $100 billion, has exploited a variety of legal loopholes to avoid the estate tax, according to court records and Internal Revenue Service filings obtained through public-records requests. The Waltons' example highlights how billionaires deftly bypass a tax intended to make sure that the nation's wealthiest contribute their share to government rather than perpetuate dynastic wealth, a notion of fairness voiced by supporters of the estate tax like Warren Buffett and William Gates Sr.

...Alice Walton's mother and brother poured more than $9 billion into trusts since 2003 that fund charitable projects like Crystal Bridges and are also designed to protect gifts to heirs from taxation. Another Walton pioneered a tax-avoidance maneuver that is now widely used by U.S. billionaires.
"I hate to say it, but the very rich pay very little in gift and estate tax," said Jerome Hesch, a lawyer at Berger Singerman LLP in Miami who reviewed some of the Walton family's trust filings for Bloomberg. "At the Waltons' numbers, the savings are unbelievable."

...losing just two estate tax loopholes — ones that the Waltons appear to have used — would raise more than $2 billion annually over the next decade, according to Treasury Department estimates. That doesn't count taxes lost to the type of charitable trusts the Waltons used to fund projects like the museum; the department hasn't estimated that cost.

Sadly, the PR machine for the wealthy has convinced many Americans that there is a "death tax," thus the rush to "avoid probate" (an unrelated issue, for one thing) by people without, as my father's used to say, a "pot to pee in."

A tiny percentage of people must pay an estate tax each year, probably now in the dozens in Arkansas with a couple estate tax exemption of more than $10 million in free and clear assets. And there is NO estate tax assessed in Arkansas. It once was a modest percentage of the tax assessed at the federal level. Now it's nothing. And, in the case of the Waltons, it's a missed opportunity to tax billions that the heirs received at almost no cost. Forget about the notion that they had paid taxes already on the appreciated stock that constitutes the majority of their fortune.

Tags: , , , ,


Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Jared Henderson outlines health goals

    Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor, has released a list of ideas to improve access to health care and reduce costs, leading with an end to the computer work reporting requirement for participation in the expanded Medicaid program. "Our focus needs to be ensuring that Medicaid funds are spent appropriately and effectively, not making it harder for citizens that need coverage to get it," he said.
    • Sep 18, 2018
  • Tuesday's open line and the daily news roundup

    The open line and the day's news roundup.
    • Sep 18, 2018
  • Bryant High School band withdraws from French Hill campaign rally

    The Bryant High School Band has withdrawn from a planned appearance at a campaign rally Friday for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill after learning it was a political event.
    • Sep 18, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Free Zinn book for Arkansas teachers

    Arkansas teachers! Get your free Howard Zinn book here! Whether Kim Hendren likes it or not.
    • Mar 3, 2017
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017

Slideshows

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation