"No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry of American revolutionaries.
“No taxation without respiration” is the rallying cry of those (mostly Republicans) against estate taxes. The argument is that a person has paid taxes on income his/her entire life, and death is not an economic event. Many families have to break up real estate and other non-liquid investments just to pay the tax. A “death tax” penalizes a person with a lifetime of saving over another with a lifetime of spending.
Republican presidential candidate and Forbes magazine publisher Steve Forbes popularized “no taxation without respiration” in 1999. Wall Street Journal writer Paul Gigot appears to have coined “no taxation without respiration” on PBS’s The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on August 4, 1993.
Wikipedia: Estate tax in the United States
The estate tax in the United States is a tax imposed on the transfer of the “taxable estate” of a deceased person, whether such property is transferred via a will or according to the state laws of intestacy. The estate tax is one part of the Unified Gift and Estate Tax system in the United States. The other part of the system, the gift tax, imposes a tax on transfers of property during a person’s life; the gift tax prevents avoidance of the estate tax should a person want to give away his/her estate.
In addition to the federal government, many states also impose an estate tax, with the state version called either an estate tax or an inheritance tax. Since the 1990s, opponents of the tax have used the pejorative term “death tax.” The equivalent tax in the United Kingdom has always been referred to as “death duties.”
If an asset is left to a spouse or a charitable organization, the tax usually does not apply. The tax is imposed on other transfers of property made as an incident of the death of the owner, such as a transfer of property from an intestate estate or trust, or the payment of certain life insurance benefits or financial account sums to beneficiaries.
12 February 1989, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “2089: A Transportation Odyssey” by Robert Holland, pg. A12:
The Beguiles proposal speeds to Assembly approval faster than a runaway 200-foot rig. Republican minority denounces it as “taxation without respiration,” then votes for it 5 to 1.
(This transportation usage appears unrelated to the death/estate tax—ed.)
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Volume 6, Issues 213-243
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“No Taxation Without Respiration.”
-- W. S. JOURNAL’s Paul Gigot, proposing a GOP rallying-cry that notes the retroactive tax which could affect heirs of people who die after 1/1/93. “McNeil/Lehrer,” PBS, 8/4.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
4 August 1993
“Fresh Views; Political Wrap.” In New York: ROGER MUDD; In Washington: JAMES LEHRER; GUESTS: MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist; PAUL GIGOT, Wall Street Journal
MR. MUDD: Let me ask you—let me raise the question of fairness and what you think the effect of the conferees’ decision will be to make the tax increases, personal income taxes, retroactive. Is that going to damage that bill in, on the floor, Paul?
MR. GIGOT: Yeah. I think right now that is the biggest problem they have, because it kind of popped up here at the last minute because they needed $9 billion to pay for some, some other things they needed to get some votes for. And Bob Dole really hit hard on that, and you’ve got Republicans even saying that, you know, if you died sometime after January 1st, your heirs are still subject to tax, so the Republican rallying cry is no taxation without respiration. It’s—[Shields laughing in background]—it’s a damaging point because it seems to be unfair to pay for something that you didn’t think we were going to have to pay for.
15 April 1997, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, “House rejects amendment requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress before taxes can be raised” by David Hess:
“There should be no taxation without respiration.’’ Under the estate tax, $600000 of a deceased’s estate is exempt from federal taxation.
24 July 1997, Arizona Daily Star (AZ),:
Bob Schaffer, a Colorado Republican who wants to abolish estate taxes, says: “No taxation without respiration.’’
OCLC WorldCat record
No taxation without respiration!
Author: Jefferson G Edgens; Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Publisher: Midland, MI : Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 1999.
Series: Viewpoint on public issues, no. 99-19
Edition/Format: Book : English
8 March 1999, Detroit (MI) News, “Forbest bets on flat tax”:
“We’ll have a new principle for taxation: No taxation without respiration.”
19 June 1999, The Facts (Clute, TX), “Death to the death tax,” pg. 4, col. 1:
Families should not have to pay a tax when a family member dies on assets that have already been taxed before. Today’s battle cry: No taxation without respiration.
OCLC WorldCat record
REVIEW ARTICLES - Taxation Without Respiration: Economic Liberty and Political Equality - Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes
Author: Jim Grote; William Gates Sr; Chuck Collins
Publisher: Bowling Green, OH : The Society, c1991-
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Business ethics quarterly : the journal of the Society for Business Ethics. 13, no. 4, (2003): 581
Flat Tax Revolution: Using a postcard to abolish the IRS
By Steve Forbes
Washington, DC: Regnery Pub.
No taxation without respiration. Killing the death tax would help preserve family businesses when the owner dies instead of forcing a breakup in order to pay the tax bills.
No Taxation Without Respiration
Handcrafted by Flip on April 14, 2005
The death tax hinders economic activity in the following ways:
1. Discourages savings and investment;
2. Undermines job creation and wage growth;
3. Prevents economy from achieving investment potential;
4. Contradicts central promise of American life: wealth creation.
Washington (DC) Post
by Dan Froomkin
Friday, July 28, 2006; 12:36 PM
I found the speech notable—for a new joke. Talking about his opposition to the estate tax, which Republicans prefer calling the “death tax,” Bush noted: “That’s called ‘taxation without respiration.’”
The phrase, according to my research, was coined by conservative pundit Paul Gigot back in 1993, but it was new for Bush.
The Estate Tax Explained: Who It Hits And Doesn’t
by Andrea Seabrook
December 4, 2009
A philosophical question arose on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday: Should dead people have to pay taxes? Sounds funny, but the estate tax or, as Republicans call it, the “death tax,” is one of the big debates between the two parties. And, as is usually the case, the truth is more complicated than either party makes it.
Debate on the House floor sounded contentious. (The prize for best quip goes to the Republicans who came up with “No Taxation Without Respiration.")
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Friday, December 04, 2009 • Permalink