For the Greater Good

March 11, 2003By Chuck Sheketoff Download PDF

Why Oregon Should Reform, Not Repeal, the Progressive Estate Tax

Executive Summary

Widespread interest in the estate tax is remarkable, given that it collects nothing from 98 percent of the deaths that occur each year. Lawmakers would be hard pressed to find another tax that impacts so few and exempts so many of their constituents.

The estate tax is levied when large accumulations of wealth are transferred from the estates of people who have died to the estates’ beneficiaries. Special provisions lighten or eliminate the estate tax on farms and small businesses. Only a small fraction of family farms or businesses are subject to the estate tax and for those few, the business or farm usually does not constitute a majority of the estate. The tax recognizes that extraordinary accumulations of wealth happen, in part, thanks to the investments of the broader society, and protects against the ill effects of concentrations of wealth in the hands of a few.

Download a copy of this report:

For the Greater Good (PDF), March 11, 2003.

Download just this Executive Summary (PDF).

While Congress’ 2001 decision to gradually repeal the federal estate tax had no immediate impact on Oregon’s tax, this paper discusses why Oregon’s inheritance tax statutes are out of date and need reform.

Oregon is not alone in looking for appropriate ways to continue to collect estate taxes. Twelve states have recently taken steps to “decouple” from the 2001 federal tax changes.