Can we please smack the next person to say "death tax"?

Posted on: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 16:16 By: Tom Swiss

Listening to To The Point while washing dishes last night, I found myself resisting the urge to throw things at the radio during an interview with wingnut Senator Rick Santorum (pick your link: Dan Savage style or Senate website style). No, not because of his famous homophobia (not this time), but because of his references to the inheritance tax as the "death tax".

There's no doubt that the GOP has played better politics over the past decade or two than the Democrats, partly because the Democrats seem to suffer from some sort of wasting disease of the spine but largely because the Republicans have no shame about manipulating language to create reasonable-sounding half-truths and outright lies. The "death tax" is a great example. There's no such thing.

No one is taxed when they die. If I'm dead, they can't make me pay. (Indeed, if we had to pay a tax in order to die, then immortality would be as easy as tax fraud.) If you want the government to transfer the wealth of the deceased to you, then you have to pay a tax - and only if there's a lot of wealth. (I notice this is one "transfer of wealth" that the right wing heartily approves of.)

So, can we please start branding politicians as either ignorant or liars (or both) when they call the inheritance tax a "death tax"?