In his Senate race against Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., former Republican Rep. Pat Toomey is using a favorite GOP issue: taxes. In an ad, Toomey charges that “Joe Sestak … even wants to bring back the death tax, letting the IRS take half of your savings when you die.”
Before we look at the substance of the ad, let’s first take a closer look at what Toomey calls the “death tax” and what others call the “estate tax.”
According to the IRS, the decades-old estate tax was levied until recently on “your right to transfer property at your death. It consists of an accounting of everything you own or have certain interests in at the date of death,” including such items as cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities and business interests. Various factors reduce the gross amount subject to the tax, such as mortgages and other debts, amounts passed to surviving spouses and a credit that shields upwards of $1 million per person, and double that for a couple.