California ballot initiative to make state university free again by reinstating inheritance tax for millionaires


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The question in my mind is: will this actually work? Or will millionaires put their money in trusts/charties in some other state to avoid the tax? Resting such a massive expenditure on an income source that people are going to try to game feels risky to me.


The rich should pay the lion’s share for publicly subsidized education across the life course because an educated populace is an unalloyed public good in the broadest sense of the word.


The public college where I teach is now tuition-free for San Francisco residents due to a parcel tax recently imposed on property sales over $5 Million. It seems to be working pretty well so far.


There’s also a certain kind of symmetrical beauty in the fact that inheritance is the primary tool for social reproduction and building an aristocracy whereas free and available education for the masses is the primary tool for social and class mobility and preventing/dismantling aristocracy.


Well, that and union membership.


Well, but you won’t have unions unless you have college campuses on which to indoctrinate the students to your left-wing conspiracies, now will you :wink:


Well that’s one way to get even more of California’s elderly people to move to Arizona.


Elderly millionaires who live in California don’t do so for tax reasons, they do so because they decided that’s where they wanted to live out their twilight years. There are probably SOME rich retirees who would change those life plans for the sake of their heirs but I think most would probably prefer stay put.


If this doesn’t get young people to the voting booths nothing will. Bet their parents will…


Or will the multimillionaires just change their officially registered “primary residence” to somewhere in Montana? Aren’t there US states that effectively already do tax domiciling?


1%'ters are shitting in their pants.


Unfortunately, while not as glamorous as the Golden Parachute, there are some pretty nice Golden Diapers out there…


I smell where you’re coming from.


The calculation of how much they will take in might or might not be naive. But the return to government for free education is probably greater than the interest rate on the debt anyway, so I wouldn’t be too concerned.

I mean, you spend your life accumulating a fortune, you are in the last decade or so of that life, what are you going to do? Do the things you want to do with your time because you can afford to do so, or hide away every cent you can from the evil government?

Let’s not pretend that people who would change their life around to avoid paying this tax are doing it for their heirs. They probably want to be buried with their money.


I’m a big fan of the inheritance tax. It’s got no down side: It only affects the richest 0.2%, and it’s a tax on a windfall, not on something you earned.

I have no opinion on whether or not it should be used for college costs, because I don’t know enough about that angle.


John Paul Getty and William Randolph Hearst didn’t build their magnificent coastal homes in California because of the tax breaks, that’s for sure.


I don’t think that’s a common sentiment. They absolutely want to leave their heirs enough money that they don’t have to sell the family estate or cancel the country club membership. Family prestige is a thing.


While I am sure some small fraction are as you describe, the vast majority of inheritance involves the death of someone close to you - and so regardless of the tax rate it’s no windfall.

But yes, lets tax the wealthy more than the not wealthy. Good plan overall.