No Minister

Hand over the $35 trillion, you old farts

It would be an understatement to say that the latest Generations, Millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly a bunch of unhappy campers here in Western societies.

The main reason for their unhappiness is a growing feeling of falling behind and never being able to catch up as their forebears did after WWII. The target of their wrath are the Baby Boomers who, in their view, inherited a rapidly developing economy of plentiful, well-paid jobs – many of which did not require great education – as well as plentiful and cheap housing.

Obviously those are broad and crude generalisations. Many a Boomer will gladly tell you about mortgage rates of 20%+ in the 1970’s as they struggled to get their families together.

But the generations are often scathing about their predecessors; look at what Boomers had to say about their parent’s generation, they of Great Depression and WWII experience.

Strangely my Gen X group seems to have escaped the abuse, despite the fact that we got pretty good economies in the 1980’s and 1990’s, at least if you went overseas back then, something that Boomer Chris Trotter is still bitter about:

People like Bernard bade their country farewell at the first opportunity. All that free education and health care, all that social security: the tens-of-thousands of dollars invested in him by his fellow citizens; it all went to foreigners. If all the Bernards and Bernadettes of the 1980s and 90s had thrown in their lot with Anderton and his followers, the tragic failures detailed in Hickey’s Spinoff post might have been avoided. But Bernard and his ilk sneered at Anderton and the Alliance. The Left were economic Neanderthals. Losers.

The Mill / Gen Z groups do have legitimate complaints. With Western economies not exactly booming in the last twenty years as they did after WWII and with wage and salary earnings having stagnated as a proportion of the economy, plus ridiculous housing inflation that has actually got worse as the 21st century has developed. They’re just not building wealth as the Boomers did for the same age range.

However, that graph actually contains the answer, and it’s analysed in a WSJ article, Older Americans Stockpiled A Record $35 Trillion. The Time Has Come To Give It Away. It starts with what everybody knows – or suspects even if they haven’t looked at the data:

At the end of this year’s first quarter, Americans age 70 and above had a net worth of nearly $35 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data. That amounts to 27% of all U.S. wealth, up from 20% three decades ago. Their wealth is equal to 157% of U.S. gross domestic product, more than double the proportion 30 years ago, federal data show.

But nobody lives forever:

Older generations will hand down some $70 trillion between 2018 and 2042, according to research and consulting firm Cerulli Associates. Roughly $61 trillion will go to heirs—increasingly millennials and Generation Xers—with the balance going to philanthropy.

To which Mill / Gen Z might say, “So what. I need the money sooner than that”. Well the good news is that it’s already started.

The average inheritance in 2019 was $212,854, up 45% from an inflation-adjusted $146,844 in 1998, according to an analysis of Fed data by economists at a unit of Capital One Financial Corp.

And people aren’t waiting until they die. Annual gifts taxpayers reported to the Internal Revenue Service—a fraction of the gifts that flow outside the tax system—rose to $75 billion in 2016, from an inflation-adjusted $45 billion in 2010. Over that period, the amount that people could give away without paying taxes on gifts rose from $1 million to more than $5 million for individuals, and from $2 million to more than $10 million for couples.

Because of indexiing in the US system, those latter figures are adjusting up every year. There’s just one fly in the ointment:

The pending wealth transfers have caught the attention of the Biden administration, which recently proposed reducing a $40 billion annual tax break that has been the cornerstone of estate planning for generations of Americans. Today, people who inherit assets that have risen in value, such as stock held outside retirement accounts, a family home or a three-generation manufacturing company, don’t pay capital-gains taxes unless they sell. If they sell, they can exclude gains that occurred during the prior owner’s lifetime.

Under the Biden proposal, the owner’s unrealized gains would become taxable in the year of his or her death

Our Beloved And Kind Socialists here in NZ are obviously also thinking along the same lines: Is Labour going to introduce a death tax?

Oh I think they will, if they can get away with it, because they “know” that governments are better at distributing wealth across generations than families, just like they’re better at spreading the wealth around in the here and now.

I wonder what that will do to the youth vote in both nations?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 19, 2021 at 10:13 am

3 Responses

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  1. Take it to the bank, Tom growing up in the post war era the iniquitous burdens of taxing estates or more accurately Granny taxes caused many farms to be sold to meet the draconian grab that had become significant in the fall out from the First Labour Government of Savage and Fraser.

    Accountants and lawyers had a harvest time finding ways to minimise the destructive asset stripping, in the main by creating company structures and trusts. Here we go again, an already very difficult part of family farming and small business continuity for those inclined to attempt such moves largely brought about by the insane government and local authority moves over withholding subdividable land from a free market alongside a modern wish to a more equitable distribution of family wealth sees hurdles that can often become insurmountable.

    Envy, greed and avarice are the main drivers of such tax being attractive to socialists so many of who spend their lives on subsidised money teats sucking a great lifestyle from productive citizens who are then prevented from similar financial security by burdensome tax systems ending with a granny tax.

    Taxing accumulated wealth is an easy sell for a majority but it is so destructive in wealth accumulation and investment money sourcing that is a mantra for so many lamenting the current very poor self funding of nations that then become financially beholden to an administration such as Xi’s Communist nation with its very tightly controlled economy enabling an ability to step in as a lender and we can witness the results of that clearly. A system that an educated mass of citizens will never accept as it denies them the lifestyle they enjoy to a point where re-election becomes fraught, of course no such problem fo dear od Xi there.

    Gravedodger

    July 19, 2021 at 9:15 am

  2. A death tax, besides been unethical will create several issues and solutions to those issues..
    The first solution is to spend or lose all your money, otherwise the government will get it
    The second issue is how it would effect any will.
    I know of several families as it is, that have a family farm that is barely economic and is presently been run by a son on the parents behalf.

    It’s complicated as it is due to the ‘Family Protection Act 1955’ which effectively means you can’t just give the farm to one child without condering the any others.

    uncoffined

    July 19, 2021 at 9:54 am

  3. An excellent column Mr. Hunter. I can recall once Bob Jones said; ” I like Labour Governments because the effects of their legislation is always the opposite of their intentions. Socialist millennials and younger in New Zealand are right now taking the hiding that no Conservative Government [ if you had ever had one ] would discipline them with. People like Ardern are simply so stupid and arrogant that they never see that people will react in an equal and opposite way to the intentions of her taxation. Her insatiable hatred of reality and common sense, and human nature.. But the great effect is the false plague. If readers will consider they may agree with me that the most intense effect of the 24 hour tv inducing fear, of fear, is fear itself. I looked at my own considerations and yes I have Vitamins D and C, Zinc, Magnesium and even a stock of Ivermectin.. Our most fundamental instincts are to preserve life and limb, and then gain shelter and food. Shelter, yes shelter and the best shelter we can achieve, The plague effect will last a generation, and that means I predict a continuation of the appreciation of home albeit at a reduced 6% per year. This will eventually turn even the stupidest of the weakest generation earth has ever produced, the woke millennials away from Lenin’s witch..

    Ludvykjahn

    July 20, 2021 at 6:52 am


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