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solar and wind power estate tax loophole

Give your kids solar panels or wind turbines to avoid estate tax
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When wealthy people die, much of their money gets taxed. It is called the estate tax, by those who like the tax and the death tax by those who want to make the tax sound morbid. In nations that have the estate tax, rich people who spend their money on solar panels or wind turbines could avoid it, with all the money that they use for that equipment.

This would stimulate the market for this equipment. Billions of dollars would get invested in this wind turbines and solar panels. And we wouldn't be going around the estate tax really, because when you die you are not transferring money, or houses. You give your kids a pile of solar panels or wind turbines. The "value" of these items do not get taxed.

So instead of Paris Hilton getting access to offshore bank accounts when her father dies, she would get millions of dollars of solar equipment that her dad bought in 2010, that helped stimulate the economy, and that she can use to produce clean energy.

myclob, Jun 22 2009

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       Welcome back [myclob]! I like the idea a lot - tax breaks for investments in sustainable energy sources is very likely something we'll be seeing in the near future (there are already some tax-based incentives geared towards this sort of thing here in the UK) and that's probably, on balance, a good thing.*   

       The danger with this kind of subsidisation is that it can make less efficient, lower quality solutions viable, and (potentially) stifle development of better alternatives.   

       * On the estate/death tax loophole thing, forestry is an existing example here in the UK, where managed forests are exempt from estate/death/income(?) tax calculations and as such used as a method of inter-generational wealth storage. I presume the idea there was a similar one, with the government needing to keep a percentage of the country forested, and having to shape the tax system so as to make it economically viable for individuals to do so.
zen_tom, Jun 22 2009
  

       Thanks for welcoming me back. I didn't post anything, because I didn't have any more ideas... Good points... I need to refine the idea so I'm more specific... I said panels and turbines, but what about the batteries? Or, as you say, maybe I should be less specific. We don't want to encourage bad technology. What about other forms of green energy... I had no idea the already had other estate tax loop holes... I like this one, because it encourages people to buy stuff, which will drive the cost for that stuff down, so other people can buy more of that stuff.
myclob, Jun 22 2009
  

       Admirable as this is in intent, isn't it [marked-for-deletion] advocacy ("tax relief for people who do x")?
pertinax, Jun 22 2009
  

       There are two problems, depending on how you envisage the implementation of this idea.   

       1) Rich people invest in supplying energy to everyone. So that future progeny retain income from the populace. Baked! And none too green, or cheap, I tells ya!   

       2) Rich people invest in intellectual property and or infrastructure which the government or state needs to supply energy (or even a service). Google "T. Boone Pickens". (I know, its sounds like a NSFW trap, but it isn't).   

       Now, onto other things. The *really* rich have a plethora of mechanisms for passing on wealth to progeny and circumventing "estate duty". Besides the obvious one of ownership of some portion of the assets of a "central reserve" (which earn tax free dividends anually, without eroding capital or profit), there are the funds sitting in charitable "foundations" or trusts.   

       Your best bet at preserving wealth through generations, with the exception of owning a portion of a central banks assets, is a good old foundation or trust devoted to a philanthropic cause. The longer *Man* takes to find a resolution to this "cause" the better. Malaria, is quite a safe bet in this instance. It is not quite viral, no chance of an immunisation. And it is not quite bacterial, no chance of an antibiotic. Most agents that eradicate the vector of distribution (anopheles) are banned. Well done Bill and Melinda...
4whom, Jun 22 2009
  

       + I actually have plans to do this and was surprised to see it written up. I'm not what many would consider rich, though.   

       Maintaining a solar farm is not exactly just a pile of cash, though. Panels and other equipment would have to be replaced in order to assure positive cash inflow over time and the farm probably would have have upwards of 200 panels - no small cash outlay.
My thought was to re-invest electricity generation "profits" into more panels until there were enough to provide an income above what the replacement / maintenance costs would be.
  

       I also thought about spacing them out far enough apart on tracking motors in order to still be able to have a greenhouse / fish farm underneath for dual use of the property.   

       The stupid recession brought these plans to a screaching halt, though - I was just about to begin putting panels on my house roof as phase 1 of this idea.   

       Depending upon where you live, the break even point is probably 20 years + as well.
Zimmy, Jun 22 2009
  

       4Whom, what you say about malaria doesn't make sense. The parasite which causes malaria is not at all a virus and not at all a bacteria. It's like saying that you're not quite a mushroom, and not quite a rock.
Malaria is actually caused by a microscopic eukaryotic organism.
  

       Plus, vaccination against bacteria is possible (examples: vaccines to prevent Anthrax, Tetanus, Tuberculosis), as are antibiotics against viruses (strictly speaking, they're called antivirals; examples: HIV combination therapy, Tamiflu).   

       Finally, people are working on vaccines against malaria, so I wouldn't say there was no chance of an effective one being developed.   

       Incidentally - this isn't pedantry; you're just utterly wrong. I'll admit it was a bit off-topic though.
Loris, Jun 22 2009
  

       [Loris] wooah, wooah. Hold up there son. I said it was not a virus, I said it was not a bacterium. I know it is a eukaryotic organism, that was not a "fluke".   

       What I was trying to say is that after about 100 000 years of living with this organism we have not got rid of it. Sounds good to bury loads of your money and other's money in a foundation that operates (with suitable operating costs), in perpituity, to eradicate something we have not eradicated. Play the man, not the ball, dude (or is that the other way round?)...
4whom, Jun 22 2009
  

       I thought it was a particularly astute point about Bill and Melinda - that was a nuance that had slipped my mind (till now, I was all "Ahhh, that's nice...")   

       Another example of this kind of structure might be the "charitable foundation" thing that Don Corleone leaves to his daughter in "Godfather Part III" - although in that film, I think it's supposed to represent the going straightedness and all-round legitness of New York's most reasonable man, rather than as an inheritance tax 'structure'.   

       Oh, and sadly yes - what [pertinax] said.
zen_tom, Jun 22 2009
  

       You actually said:
//...It is not quite viral, ... And it is not quite bacterial,...//
Which strongly suggests that it's very close to both those things.
Okay, nevermind.
(Heh, fluke.)
  

       I've not looked in to the B&M Gates foundation; is it possible for it to pay money back to them/their descendants?
I think they've still got more money than they could ever sensibly spend in any case. Besides making them feel better about the dubious business practices which made their fortune in the first place, I remember reading about how they were worried about their descendants becoming playboys. If they could take money back then that wouldn't work.
Loris, Jun 22 2009
  

       //Plus, vaccination against bacteria is possible (examples: vaccines to prevent Anthrax, Tetanus, Tuberculosis), as are antibiotics against viruses (strictly speaking, they're called antivirals; examples: HIV combination therapy, Tamiflu).//   

       I will give you the ability of the immune system to prepare itself for *specific* bacterial infection, by way of diluted infection, AKA vaccination (and that is a pretty big consolation, because TB has RTB and XRTB for which nothing pre-emptive can be done). But you can go and shove an antibiotic up your arse if you think it will combat anything other than secondary infections in terms of viruses. Recent information on the HIV/AIDS notwithstanding. There are possibilities to piggy back off certain bacteria, and related antibiotic agents, to deliver anti-viral agents. To even suggest that this is an action of an antibiotic on a virus , other than a method of introduction of antiviral mechanisms to an environment, is plain madness.
4whom, Jun 22 2009
  

       I'm not even sure I understand that.   

       Vaccinations are not just a 'diluted' infection. They generally need to be safer than that! They can involve inactivated (killed) organism, attenuated organism (a non-infectious strain), inactivated toxin, subunit (a immunologically visible part of the microorganism) or other approaches.   

       Antivirals attempt to block the viral lifecycle somewhere. For example, HIV is an RNA retrovirus, so it needs to convert its genome to DNA when it infects a cell. This is not a process used by uninfected human cells, so it's an obvious target for antiviral drugs. The reverse-transcription process fails, or the produced DNA sequence is corrupted, 'killing' or mutating the virus.
Loris, Jun 22 2009
  

       [Loris] I doubt whether you could take unaccountable funds out of the "foundation", they were, after all, tax free "donations". However the definitions of accountable, or even reasonable, are malleable.   

       I, personally, would like to be responsible for a fund that pays for several trustee's/director's lifestyles, whilst trying to solve, but not solving, a problem that has not been solved for millenia.
4whom, Jun 22 2009
  

       //I've not looked in to the B&M Gates foundation; is it possible for it to pay money back to them/their descendants?// Oh yes, a foundation/trust/company is easy to set up, such that officers can be appointed, who, since they can be regarded as 'employees' are be able to draw a salary, perhaps even live on-site in the foundation's official office/mansion, drive the foundation's helicopter, speedboat, jet-car etc - it's all very Batman.
zen_tom, Jun 22 2009
  

       You seem to be making a big thing about how long malaria has been a human disease. To be fair, though, it's only within the last hundred years or so that there's been the potential to do so. Admittedly it does look like one of the hardest diseases to eradicate.   

       It wouldn't be an issue for the B&M Gates foundation if they did eradicate malaria. There's plenty of other things to spend money on.   

       I do take your point though about control of a foundation.
Loris, Jun 22 2009
  

       //You seem to be making a big thing about how long malaria has been a human disease. // Only after you attacked me. I could have said the same thing about the cancers. The point being, it is not the problem, but the fact that the problem cannot (or rather has a low probability of) be/ing solved.   

       This is where you can hide, not only your money, but other peoples' money too.   

       To the fact that innoculations and vaccinations are not diluted infection, or the definition of diluted infection, and the role of antibiotics in retrovirus control, well, we will save that for later :-).
4whom, Jun 22 2009
  

       //1) Rich people invest in supplying energy to everyone. So that future progeny retain income from the populace. Baked! And none too green, or cheap, I tells ya!//   

       Surely it is greener and generally better for them to invest in green energy and live at our expense than to invest in most other things to live at our expense? Especially fossil fuel based energy.   

       I suppose if the ice caps stop melting, then the poor folk who live at just above sea level are going to be really, really, bitter if rich folk are making money from solar power are they?   

       //2) Rich people invest in intellectual property and or infrastructure which the government or state needs to supply energy (or even a service). Google "T. Boone Pickens". (I know, its sounds like a NSFW trap, but it isn't).//   

       Once again, it's not 'fair', but it's no less fair than existing technology markets. It is greener though.   

       However the modern tendency is for each firm in the market to accumulate tens of thousands of patents. At this point their competitors have no alternative but to sign cross license agreements without even looking at the actual patents. The result is that patents mean very little to modern tech firms, except as a way of excluding small competitors. But many firms, such as energy companies, must be large anyway.   

       I do agree with [myclob] though that it would encourage solar and wind power to the exclusion of other practical ideas like ocean current turbines, geothermal power, hydroelectric, biofuels etc. You could include them but many are controversial among environmentalists. Nuclear power is carbon free but produces nasty waste. Hydroelectric dams involve flooding the surrounding countryside. Biofuels have been grown at greater energy cost than they provide thanks to badly thought out subsidies.   

       It also seems unlikely that there will be any provision for making things more efficient either. Maybe we would save an awful lot of energy if we moved things around with canals.
Bad Jim, Jun 22 2009
  

       We need to use better marketing to get people to consider purchasing green energy. SUV salesmen use the 4rth of July to sell us cars that put money in the hands of those who threaten would destroy America.   

       However, even people that love their country often hate paying taxes. In fact people make a hobby out of combing the tax code for loopholes, and will hours of their own time, and often $200 of their own money, just so they don’t have to give $100 dollars to the government.   

       Many state, local, and federal governments are taxing people and using this money to invest in green energy. However the promise of the green economy was that we would all be self sufficient individuals living “off the grid”. We don’t need the government to take our money and invest in green energy for us, when we can do it ourselves. Many people would rather have their own green energy equipment, than be taxed by the government with the assurance that the government will take care of them, but financing can be a problem. Green energy often takes 20+ years to start paying you back. Most people don't have enough money when they are young to buy green energy. This means that by the time people are 50 years old, and have enough money, they won't be able to break even until they are 70. And when you die, your belongings are sold off, and if you are wealthy a significant portion of your “estate” gets taxed.   

       It is sad that a 20 year payback is too long to invest in something. The federal government of the united states has been around for 233 years. The Catholic Church has been around, so they say, for 2009 years. All our families go back to the same place: Adam or the apes (depending on which symbols is on the back of your car). The company I work for is over 100 years old. It would have been wise for all these organizations, and all of our ancestors to have invested in things that have a payback of more than less than 20 years. As resources become more scarce, the payback of fossil fuel may shrink.   

       If you are company, a government, or a parent, that plans on having part of your organization or family around for more than 20 years in the future, you could buy savings bonds, but what if you could also purchase green energy equipment, with the reassurance that their value would not be sold, and taxed when you died, but the equipment could be passed directly to your future generations?   

       A percentage of solar panels will last 100 years. The wire, the panels, the conduit, the supports will last much longer. The goal isn't to avoid the estate tax. The goal is to reward people for making good long term investments.   

       I just believe that there should be small loopholes that make sense. In nations that have the estate tax, rich people who spend their money on renewable energy equipment could avoid this tax it, with all, or some, of the money that they use for that equipment. This would stimulate the market for this equipment. Billions of dollars would get invested in this green energy. And we wouldn't be going around the estate tax really, because when you die you are not transferring money, or houses. You give your kids a pile of solar panels or wind turbines. The "value" of these items do not get taxed. Your SUV gets sold, and a portion goes to the government, but all the green energy equipment gets passed on tax free. This lets people who care about their kids, also help the planet. So instead of Paris Hilton getting easy access to offshore bank accounts when her father dies, she would get millions of dollars of solar equipment that her dad bought in 2010, that helped stimulate the economy, and that she can use to produce clean energy.
myclob, Jun 23 2009
  

       Last time I went to Africa I had a Malaria vaccination rather than the pesky tablets I used to take, so I think your assumptions about Malaria being a sound investment may be rather inaccurate. There is however no permanent vaccination, no vaccination cheap enough that you could vaccinate an entire population on a regular basis and no cure for those infected. Those are the problems.   

       Buying renewable energy technology may entitle you to tax breaks, but does the transfer or sale of assets still incur tax? You usually only get a break on either buy or sell.
marklar, Jun 23 2009
  

       // //You seem to be making a big thing about how long malaria has been a human disease. // //
//Only after you attacked me.//
  

       Did I attack you 4whom? I don't think I did. I might have disagreed with your statements a bit.
No offense was intended.
Loris, Jun 23 2009
  

       [Loris], wow, that Creeping Paranoia Prank Programme really works...
4whom, Jun 23 2009
  
      
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