Mr. Steinbrenner will be remembered for his contributions to baseball at tonight's All-Star Game. Yankee fans we are relieved knowing that the team will not have to be sold to pay the Federal Estate Tax. Since Mr. Steinbreener residing in Florida, his estate will also avoid the New York Estate Tax.
However, for others his death will add a high profile element to the estate tax debate. For the proponents of the estate tax, his death represents the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of badly need tax revenue. (For an analysis of Mr. Steinbreener's estate issues see this Forbes entry.) For the opponents of the estate tax, his death illustrates the benefit many small business and family farms could receive if the estate tax was permanently repealed.
When I heard of Mr. Steinbreener's death, I could help but recall a recent Wall Street Journal article, "Too Rich To Live?" The article provides examples of how the estate tax can impact the timing of death. It also provides a look at a number of notable people who have died this year.
With the estate tax scheduled to come back at a 55% rate the question arises: How many more billionaires are too rich to live past 2010?