Senators Bernie Sanders, Tom Harkin, and Sheldon Whitehouse will introduce what they are calling (George Orwell, call your office) the Responsible Estate Tax, with a rate of 55% on estates above $50 million, and a 10% surtax on top of that on the value of an estate above $500 million ($1 billion for couples), Paul Caron's TaxProf blog reports. At least Mr. Sanders is intellectually honest enough openly to call himself a socialist, which is more than can be said for Messrs. Harkin and Whitehouse.
What's happening anyway is that many of those with assets that would be subject to this tax are deciding, led by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, to give half of their money, or more, to non-profit organizations. Laudable as that may be and complex as the motives may be, it has the effect of lowering the sizes of the estates that would be subject to the tax, and sending the message that the billionaires think they themselves will do a better job of allocating that capital to causes that benefit the public than would Senators Sanders, Harkin, Whitehouse, and their colleagues.
It's also funny how the word "greed" is so often applied to the billionaires, but not to the politicians who want to take 65% of the money the billionaires have accumulated even after a lifetime of paying annual income taxes.