“Transfer of Wealth” – Just for the “Rich”?

Hopefully everyone will have a healthy and prosperous 2018.  It certainly seems to be shaping up that way so far.  The Dow, has broke 26,000, dropped below 25,000 and closed up over 300 points today.  We have experienced well in excess of $1 trillion of new wealth in the stock market in the past twelve months.  That is a good thing.  It is not just the wealthy, the stockbrokers, and other “big shots” that realize this increase in wealth from the stock market.  It is the little guy too.  The laborer/teacher/police officer/fireman who has paid into to a union pension reaps these benefits too.  The pensions invest in the stock market, bonds, real estate and other assets.  As do many mutual funds, some directly and some indirectly.  The word “Wealth” has, in many sectors of society, been erroneously associated with “evil”, “greed”, and other nefarious behavioral traits.  Increasing your wealth is not a bad thing for you, your family and your heirs.  Pretty much everyone wants to make it “easier” for our children to have a better life than we do.  Which brings us to the whole “transfer of wealth” issue.  Full disclosure, I was raised in a family that owned a small business.  My parents, aunts, and uncles all worked hard to assure that their families could be supported by the business.  Was it easy? I don’t think so; trying to sell musical instruments when interest rates were 18% must have been a challenge.  But they did it, they worked hard to increase the value of the business every year.  When the time comes that they pass on they will have the value of their business as a part of their estate. An estate that is composed of assets (typically cash, stocks, bonds, real estate) that are taxed annually.  Why does it make sense that upon their death, the estate should have to pay a tax on these assets yet again? This the government acting like a silent partner, reaping the rewards of decades of hard work without ever participating in the “work” aspect of the business.  So the “wealth” of a small family-owned business will be transferred to the heirs, after the proverbial “pound of flesh” is taken by the government.  We are not talking Kennedy/Rockefeller/Getty wealth, but small time family business “wealth”.  This scenario is repeated millions of times across the country with immigrant families, first and second generation American families, who work hard to build something of value that could be decimated by estate taxes.  This confiscation of wealth is not a good thing. It discourages hard work for the delayed gratification of leaving children and grandchildren in a better financial position than their predecessors. Is that good for America?

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