The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Patriotic Millionaires Call On Congress To Preserve The Estate Tax

Don't Eliminate the Most American Tax During a Time of Unprecedented Inequality.


Abolishing the estate tax would be unseemly and irresponsible, argue members of the Patriotic Millionaires in an open letter to President Trump and members of Congress.

Several hundred inaugural signers, including 130 people who will personally owe estate tax, call on Congress to drop the idea. Signers include Robert Crandall, the former Chairman of American Airlines, Arnold Hiatt, former CEO of Striderite, Leo Hindery Jr., former CEO of AT&T, and many more. The letter is visible at

"The estate tax was established a century ago at a time of historic inequalities to put a brake on the build-up of concentrated wealth," said Morris Pearl, chairman of the group and former Managing Director at BlackRock. "Now during a time of stunning wealth inequality, Congress wants to abolish the tax. This is a really bad idea for our country and democracy."

The estate tax is paid by only a small fraction of the wealthiest Americas, starting at $5.49 million for an individual and almost $11 million for a couple. Fewer than 1 in 500 households will owe the tax. Despite this tax only affecting extremely wealthy Americans, President Trump and Congress have decided its repeal is important enough to include in their recently released tax cut framework. Even though millions of people have had their lives rocked by hurricanes and wildfires in recent months, they apparently believe a massive tax break for the wealthy is a priority.

"We expect thousands more will sign our public letter," said Chuck Collins, a member of the Patriotic Millionaires who initiated a similar call to preserve the estate tax in 2001 that enlisted over 1000 multi-millionaires and billionaires in defense of the tax, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Paul Newman.

"The President says he won't benefit from his tax plan," said Stephen Prince, President and CEO of Card Marketing Services and a signer to the letter who will personally owe estate tax. But as the letter points out, President Trump's children will be enormous beneficiaries. "By repealing the estate tax, President Trump himself will transfer billions of dollars that currently belong to the American people directly to Donald Jr., Eric, Tiffany, Ivanka, Barron and any other heirs he may have."

"My kids all know that they can and will inherit $11.5 million from their Mom and I tax free when we die. All of which they did not earn, but I am fine with them having it," said Prince, "but everything beyond that, the U.S. Government will get its share, whatever that is, and they can have the rest. I do not support creating a whole generation of kids who never made nor learned how to make money. If my kids' pro-rata share of $11.5 million plus isn't enough, then why in the world would I want to leave them more?"

Other signers of the letter who will personally owe the estate tax have spoken out forcefully against its repeal. In their own words:

"Eliminating the Estate Tax means that the most wealthy are abandoning responsibility to help ensure the general welfare. This is equivalent to 'Let them eat cake.' We all know how that ended," said Patriotic Millionaire Robert Goldschmidt.

"Wealth should be earned, not inherited," said Blaine Garst, retired Apple software engineer. "Leveling the playing field with the estate tax enables the most capable to succeed, instead of the losers who dope with Daddy's money."

"Some of the most successful people in our history would not have had the opportunity to be so if this country allowed the unfettered flow of wealth from one generation to the next. We are, and always have been, the land of opportunity. Nothing threatens that more that the repeal of the estate tax," said Bob Haines, Patriotic Millionaire.

"For generations, our lawmakers have recognized the social and fiscal need for a tax that limits the transfer of dynastic wealth," said Patricia Martone, attorney. "The only thing that has changed is that we now have a President who unabashedly seeks to use his office to maximize his wealth and that of his family, and who has put exceptionally wealthy people in charge of economic and tax policy. They would love to have their families be part of a new class of dynastic wealth. Repeal of the estate tax is contrary to the core American values of hard work and class mobility."

The Patriotic Millionaires is a group of high-net worth Americans who share a profound concern about the destabilizing level of inequality in America. Our work centers on the two things that matter most in a capitalist democracy: power and money. Our goal is to ensure that the country's political economy is structured to meet the needs of regular Americans, rather than just millionaires. We focus on three "first" principles: a highly progressive tax system, a livable minimum wage, and equal political representation for all citizens.

(202) 446-0489