Thursday, January 6, 2011

Billionaire Milliken’s Death beats the Tax Man

Benjamin Franklin famously noted that "in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes." But last year the bond between these two certainties was more flexible than usual.

By dying on December 30th Roger Milliken has joined the list of billionaires whose heirs have escaped the federal estate tax. Mr. Milliken, a South Carolina textile tycoon, was a long time player in Republican politics and conservative and libertarian causes. He was a significant supporter of Barry Goldwater in 1964, and backed the Presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan in 2000 and Duncan Hunter in 2008.  

Mr. Milliken was credited with launching the “Crafted with Pride in the U.S.A.” advertising campaign in the 1980s to protect his business interests and his workers from textile imports.  To his great credit he was an ardent opponent of segregation during the 1960s.  

Had Mr. Milliken lived for another 48 hours, his estate would have been subject to federal tax at the new 2011 rate of 35%.

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