The American Dream rests on the assumption that we live in a meritocracy, where a combination of skill and hard work, rather than inherited class and privilege, is the road to a better standard of living. The estate tax is one of the few provisions of the tax code that attempts to eliminate that unearned wealth—but if the House GOP has its way, the estate tax will be no more by 2024. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would first double the exemption—to $11 million—before eliminating the tax entirely in six years.
If enacted, the proposal would further diminish the tax's ability to promote intergenerational mobility, which has eroded very badly over time. By now, only a tiny group of extremely large estates are subject to any tax at all.