The last time Congress voted to phase-out the estate tax (aka the Paris Hilton Tax) in 2001, Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, enthusiastically called for repeal. He took out full-page ads in national newspapers, granted interviews, even gave speeches claiming that a repeal “will help close the wealth gap“¦between African-American families and white families.”
But Johnson’s argument is seriously misguided. Roughly 38 million blacks live in the United States. Of those, an estimated 59 — yes, 59 — will pay estate taxes this year, and that number will drop to just 33 in 2009, according to American Progress economist John Irons (using estimates derived from The State Of The Estate Tax As Of 2006). The truth is the wealth gap between whites and blacks will only exacerbate when there are fewer tax credits and services offered to the rest of us who start out with zero inheritance.
So now that the Senate is again planning to vote to repeal most or all of estate tax, where is Bob Johnson and his cohort of black millionaires? Hopefully they realized that the only people who will benefit from repeal is themselves.