New reports are showing that Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have supported higher estate taxes for Americans, have been using legal financial planning loopholes to limit the amount of taxes placed on their estate.
The federal estate tax levies a tax on a deceased person’s estate’s net value before it is distributed to person’s heirs. According to a June 17 Bloomberg News article, both Bill and Hillary have supported — even fought for — an increase in the estate tax as a way to prevent the country from being controlled by inherited wealth.
The Daily Mail reports that the former president and first lady are shielding their fortune estimated at tens of millions of dollars by shifting ownership of their houses to a private trust, and then eventually to their daughter, Chelsea. This technique is common among America’s millionaire class, or “the 1%,” according to the Daily Mail.
“Every year the tax code gets longer, the current code is close to 74,000 pages. The more pages there are the more loopholes top estate planning attorneys will find,” says Craig of Winship Wealth Partners. “These techniques are only being used by the 1%, because after the most recent increase in the lifetime exemption limits – those with assets under $5.1 million are not subject to estate taxes – so they are not using these techniques.”
The Bloomberg News article says what the Clintons are doing is both legal and ethical — but could damage Hillary’s image as a middle-class “everywoman” as the 2016 presidential campaign begins to take shape, said Al Hunt of Bloomberg TV.
“Voters may have a problem with a potential presidential candidate who spends a lot of time talking about the problems of the middle class while hobnobbing with the ‘rich and privileged,'” Hunt said. “It’s part of a larger problem that I think she has. … I don’t think there’s any ethical problem here. I think the optics are terrible, though. I think once you put that together with Hillary giving speeches for $200,000 to Goldman-Sachs, people start to say, ‘Wait a minute: Is she one of us or not?'”