The estate tax is similar to the standard gift tax, but is levied when a rich person dies and passes their estate on to their family. Conservatives call this the “death tax” and have fought it for decades. Conservatives have characterized the estate tax as an unfair double tax that hits millions of estates and forces families to sell their farms.
The fact is that the estate tax hits a very tiny minority of estates. Yet this fact has never prevented conservatives from misleading everyone from small business owners to small farmers into thinking that it’s an issue that will impact them.
In effect, the estate tax is another feature of the New Social Contract that prevents formation of a permanent American Aristocracy. Without it, the growing inequity between generations of rich and growing poor would be exasperated.