Blakemore and Bancroft, in their book on inheritance taxes, say:

Firmly entrenched in a long and honorable history, with the endorsement of the leading economists of ancient and modern times, and approved by the present practice of most civilized governments, he would be indeed brave who should attempt to attack the theory or validity of any sane inheritance tax from an economic standpoint.1

Professor Underwood has characterized the tax as follows:

A defense of the taxation of inheritances is superfluous. Its existence in all but a few of the civilized nations, and in all but a few of the more backward states, is its chief defense.2

Use as Penalty. - These quotations indicate with what esteem the inheritance tax is looked upon. Most of the objections arise to some of the reasons for advocating the

1 Blakemore and Bancroft, Inheritance Taxes, p. 9.

2 J. H. Underwood, State and Local Taxation, vol. i. p. 211.

tax, and because of difficulty in getting a proper administration of the law. The use of the tax to penalize fortunes which have been amassed in an illegitimate or fraudulent manner, is open at once to the objection that there is no way of differentiating the rate directly with the amount of evil connected with securing the estate. Rates have been made to vary with size of the bequest, and with the degree of relationship, but neither of these is any indication of the manner by which the bequest originated. Many small accumulations involve a larger amount of dishonesty than many of the larger ones, and to penalize them properly the rates would necessarily be regressive. This, however, cannot be used as an objection to the tax, but only to its use for a particular purpose.

Tax upon Savings. - The objections that the tax will discourage savings, and that it can be easily evaded by gifts before death, really have little foundation. In fact, few taxes tend to discourage savings as little as a tax which does not come until after death. To most individuals this appears as an event in the remote future, and a tax at such a time will have little influence on present property accumulations. It may, on the other hand, in some cases, be an incentive to greater savings. To the provident husband and father, who wishes to leave a certain legacy to wife or children, the certainty of a tax deduction will necessitate the accumulation of a larger amount. Until a material change occurs in human nature, the evasion of the tax by a distribution of property before death will be insignificant. Most men wish to retain their property while they are alive, and would rather the state secure a part of it at death than give up the privilege of retaining it in their possession while they are yet alive.

Tax of Varying Frequency. - The objections that the tax falls with varying frequency upon different accumulations, and that it falls upon capital rather than upon income, are no more serious. It is no doubt true that transfers of property occur more frequently in some families than in others, and when this situation exists a greater percentage passes to the state. The burden, however, is felt by a different individual with each levy of the tax- it falls upon a newly created ability to meet a tax burden. Any hardship which may arise in the case of direct heirs can be alleviated by a system of exemptions, or by allowing a lapse of a certain number of years before a second tax will be placed upon the same property.

That the burden falls upon capital is sometimes true, and it often happens that the tax is met from current income. As long as the receipts go into the general fund, the demand for revenue from other sources is, to that extent, lessened. What is paid in inheritance taxes does not have to be collected from income or other taxes. A larger amount of income can consequently be saved to replace or add to the existing amount of capital. Any tax will directly or indirectly fall upon the accumulation of capital, and the inheritance tax errs here to no greater extent than other taxes.