How Not to Report on the Estate Tax

Reuters (7/14/10) has a report today on the efforts by senators Blanche Lincoln (D.-Arkansas) and Jon Kyl (R.-Arizona) to greatly reduce the amount wealthy estates owe in federal taxes. Under current law, after a one-year suspension, the federal estate tax rate will return to its pre-2001 level of 55 percent, with the first $1 million exempt. Lincoln and Kyl’s proposal would change the rate to 35 percent and exempt the first $5 million of an estate. This change would save millionaires $440 billion in its first decade, and add the same amount to the federal deficit.

How does Reuters report on this massive transfer of wealth to the rich? Under the headline “Two Senators Propose Reinstating Estate Tax,” reporter Kim Dixon begins her story, “Two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, have reintroduced a proposal to reinstate the estate tax, which lapsed this year amid a row among lawmakers over taxing the wealthy when they die.”

The story does go on to note what the rates would be under the Lincoln/Kyl proposal compared to current law, but leaves the budget-busting math as an exercise for the reader.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.