President Obama's birthplace has been an issue ever since he first began campaigning. The "birther" issue even prompted the President to release an original copy of his birth certificate to silence political rivals such as Donald Trump. Many political commentators refused to cover the birther stories because of other looming issues such as the budget deficit, the debt ceiling and the estate tax.
Donald Trump took much of the credit for President Obama's release of his birth certificate, but now some estate planning commentators want to redirect the focus on Donald Trump's estate planning agenda. These commentators, such as Forbes' Hani Sarji, want to know where Trump stands on the estate tax and other wealth transfer taxes such as the gift tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax.
The estate tax issue is a political trigger point and has been the topic of protracted debate. President Obama wants the estate tax at 2009 levels of a 45 percent tax rate with a $3.5 million exemption for individuals.
Sarji reports that republicans opposed the 2009-level estate tax so President Obama had to compromise to raise the personal exemption to $5 million with an estate tax at 35 percent. This is a temporary deal however and the estate tax rate will jump up to 60 percent and the exemption for individuals will drop to $1 million in 2013 if no action is taken by Congress.
There are also a few democrats who have joined the republican call for a repeal of the estate tax. Although the future of the estate tax is uncertain, hopefully the political conversation will redirect itself from speculation regarding birth certificates to substantive estate planning issues so that Georgia residents can best order their estate planning affairs.
Source: Forbes Blogs: Estate of Confusion, "Donald Trump: What About The Estate Tax?" Hani Sarji, 4/27/11