Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Charitable gifts

September 23, 2000


To the editor:

I am pleased to see exchanges of views concerning the advisability of reducing or eliminating the federal inheritance tax. I think this is a very important public policy issue. We as a people need to think very carefully about this decision and its effect on American life.

There is one issue which I have not seen discussed in the press or in the letters to the editor and that is the potential effect of reducing or eliminating the tax on charitable giving in this country. I recall hearing at one time that France had no inheritance tax and that there was no pattern of giving by people of means comparable to the situation in this country. In our society, churches, colleges and universities, and all kinds of charitable institutions are dependent upon private gifts and bequests.

If there is no tax advantage to giving, will the level of giving stay as it is? I doubt it. One of the direct or indirect benefits of the inheritance tax is its encouragement of giving. It's the American way.

Howard J. Baumgartel,


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