Research Report The Life (and Death?) of the Estate and Gift Tax
Adam Carasso, C. Eugene Steuerle
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The modern federal estate and gift tax imposes a graduated tax schedule on transfers of property at death (the estate tax) and while living (the gift tax). Supporters of the tax see it as a way of ensuring that the wealthiest of Americans pay a larger share of taxes or else give away a larger share of their wealth to charity. Detractors view it as a "death tax"--a complex, unfair, and inefficient levy that penalizes the thriftiness of the deceased.