Who’d Gain From an Estate Tax Rollback: The 0.2 Percenters

Who’d Gain From an Estate Tax Rollback: The 0.2 Percenters

Supporters and critics of the Republican tax bills argue over their effect on middle-class Americans, but there is one group that everyone agrees would come out ahead: the millionaires and billionaires who have to reckon with the estate tax.estate tax

As Steven Mnuchin, President Trump’s Treasury secretary, bluntly declared last month, “Obviously, the estate tax, I will concede, disproportionately helps rich people.”

As it is now, the estate tax affects a small set of wealthy Americans, applying only when someone leaves assets worth more than $5.49 million to heirs. Together, parents can leave $11 million to their children without paying a penny in estate taxes.

Last year, for example, more than 2.6 million people died in the United States. Of the estates filed with the Internal Revenue Service, 5,219 — or 0.2 percent of the total — were large enough to qualify for the tax.

The kind of households that could potentially owe money, however, include Mr. Trump’s, Mr. Mnuchin’s, and those of several cabinet members and advisers, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Gary Cohn, chief of the National Economic Council.

(An analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund concluded that the estate tax repeal could save Mr. Trump’s estate more than $1 billion, and those of his cabinet members $3.5 billion.)

Mr. Trump has stated, incorrectly, that the tax is crushing “millions of small businesses and the American farmer.” In reality, only about 80 small businesses and farms would fall under the estate-tax tent this year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Republicans want to shrink the numbers further. In the Senate’s proposed tax bill, exempted income would temporarily double to $11 million per person — $22 million for a couple — during the next decade.

If those rules had been imposed last year, the number of estates owing money under the tax would have been no more than 2,204 — fewer than 0.1 percent of the total.

The House bill approved Thursday goes a step further, doubling the exemption through the 2024 tax year (and indexing for inflation), but then eliminating the tax. The result is that other taxpayers would have to make up the $151 billion cost over the next decade.

Opponents of the tax say fairness is at stake. No one — including billionaires — should have their assets taxed twice, once in life and once in death, the argument goes. But the issue is less about double taxation than no taxation.

by Patricia Cohen, NYTimes.com, November 16, 2017

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Australians Say ‘Yes’ to Same-Sex Marriage, Clearing Path for Legalization

A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples.

Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots.

“The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the survey in a move described by advocates as a delay tactic devised to appease his party’s far-right faction. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love.”Australia gay marriage

The high turnout and unequivocal result amounted to a rebuke for Australia’s most conservative politicians, many of whom saw a majority of their constituents vote to support same-sex marriage despite their arguments against it.

Proponents of gay rights spent the day celebrating. They gathered in cities around the country to watch news broadcasts of the survey results. The largest crowd, at Prince Alfred Park in Sydney, broke into cheers, with hugs, dancing and tears, as soon as the news was announced.

“This is our proudest moment as gay and lesbian Australians,” said Chris Lewis, 60, an artist from Sydney, who waved a large rainbow flag he bought in San Francisco about 30 years ago. “Finally I can be proud of my country.”

But many Australians said it was also late in coming.

Annika Lowry, 42, who brought her 4-year-old daughter to the celebration, said the vote revealed a widening gap between Australia’s political class and voters who have been demanding same-sex marriage legislation for years.

“It was not just about us,” she said. “It’s for our kids, so that they know equality is important.”

Alex Greenwich, a state lawmaker from New South Wales and the co-chairman of Australian Marriage Equality, an advocacy group, said the vote “shows that Australians have truly come together in support of their gay and lesbian mates and have said that everybody should be able to have the freedom to marry.”

Debra Chasnoff, Whose Films Redefined Gay Families, Dies at 60

Debra Chasnoff, an Oscar-winning documentarian whose educational films promoted greater tolerance for gays and lesbians, died on Nov. 7 at her home in San Francisco. She was 60.

Her wife, Nancy Otto, said the cause was breast cancer.Chasnoff

Ms. Chasnoff’s first film, which she produced in 1984 with her companion at the time, Kim Klausner, was titled “Choosing Children.” It profiled six households headed by same-sex parents who were raising children through adoption, foster parenting, previous relationships and donor insemination.

The film was said to have inspired many gay and lesbian couples to start raising families of their own.

“I think that very first film has done more to change the world than anything else I could possibly do,” Ms. Chasnoff said in a 2013 interview on blogtalkradio.com. “It’s no longer assumed you can’t be a parent if you’re gay.”

By Sam Roberts, New York Times, November 14, 2017

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Germany Must Allow Third Gender Category, Court Rules

Germany must create a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or were born with ambiguous sexual traits, the country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday, finding that binary gender designations violated the right to privacy.

In 2013, Germany became the first European country to allow parents to register newborns as neither female nor male, if the child was born with characteristics of both sexes.

The new decision, by the Federal Constitutional Court, goes further, giving lawmakers until the end of 2018 to either allow the introduction of a third gender category or dispense with gender altogether in public documents.Germany transgender

The ruling arrives as society, medicine and law increasingly recognize the ways in which gender is socially constructed and not necessarily fixed or stable.

According to Lambda Legal, an American organization that works for the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people, at least eight countries — Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan — recognize more than two genders on passports or national ID cards.

Thailand recognizes a third gender in its Constitution but has not yet made that an option on government documents.

In June, for the first time in Canada, a newborn was issued a health document without a gender: a health card that listed U as the gender, for unspecified or unknown. In August, Canada began issuing passports with a third gender option, designated with an X.

Several American states have offered residents gender-neutral options on drivers licenses, and last month, California passed a law that allows nonbinary and intersex people a nonbinary category on their birth certificates.

While much of the change worldwide has involved transgender people, the discussion has also focused attention on intersex people, those born with traits of both sexes.

“Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery,” a 2013 report from the United Nations special rapporteur on torture found, noting that they were left “with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering.” Human Rights Watch has condemned such procedures.

Battle Over Rights Inspires More Transgender Political Candidates

Nearly 30 races in the 2017-18 U.S. election cycle already have a transgender candidate, up from 13 in 2015-16, according to Harvard researcher Logan Casey.

Virginia Democrat Danica Roem has been called a man by conservative opponents attacking her views on LGBTQ rights as she campaigns to become the United States’ only transgender state legislator.Danica

Roem does not shy away from her gender identity. In one campaign ad, she applies makeup at a bathroom mirror and takes hormone pills. But rather than focus on the politics of running as a transgender woman, she prefers to discuss traffic gridlock and other issues in the Nov. 7 election for the Virginia House of Delegates.

“Transgender people are just as qualified to say, ‘Hey, I can’t stand being stuck in traffic right now. I have some ideas to fix this,’” said Roem, a 33-year-old journalist. “We can be leaders on transportation. We can be leaders on economic development, and yeah, we can be leaders on civil rights too.”

U.S. elections this year could double the country’s number of transgender officeholders, currently at six, according to the Victory Fund, which works to elect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates. The group has endorsed eight transgender candidates up for election this fall.

NBCNews.com via Reuters , November 2, 2017

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Family judge quits after refusing to approve adoptions by gay couples

A judge has resigned from the bench because he doesn’t want to oversee same-sex adoptions.

Judge Nance’s order registered an “conscientious objection to the concept of adoption of a child by a practising homosexual”, seeking to recuse himself from such cases on the grounds of “matters of conscience”.gay adoption

The judge claimed he cannot hear the cases because he believes there is no circumstance in which “the best interest of the child [would] be promoted by the adoption by a practicing homosexual”.

But after a probe was launched into his decision, this week the judge opted to resign from the bench entirely.

The state judicial commission had filed ethics charges against Nance, accusing him of violating the judicial code of conduct.

This bars judges from overtly “showing bias or prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status”.

He was also accused of failing to act in a way that “promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”.

Responding to the charges this week, Nance’s lawyers confirmed that he would be resigning rather than face punishment.

pinknews.com, October 27, 2017

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Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation to Provide Children in Foster Care the Right to Visit Their Siblings

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to affirmatively give siblings separated by foster care the right to visit and contact each other.

“This action will allow some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers to preserve family bonds that otherwise would be severed due to no fault of their own,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud to sign this compassionate legislation, which will bring us closer to a stronger and more humane New York for all.” Foster Care

Although children with active abuse or neglect cases in foster care may file motions for visitation or contact with a sibling, the current law was ambiguous and unclear on whether other children in foster care could petition for this right, creating unnecessary obstacles for siblings to maintain ties.

Under the bill (A.7553/S.4835), amendments to the Family Court Act and the Social Services law allow contact or visitation between siblings, including half siblings, that have been separated by foster care. This includes:

• Children who are in foster care as a result of voluntary placement by a parent or guardian;
• Children who are in foster care as a result of a court ruling and “judicial surrender” of parental rights; and
• A child who is in foster care and whose sibling is not currently in foster care.

Office of Children and Family Services, New York – October 24, 2017

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Historic Missouri Ruling Adds LGBT Protections To Sex Discrimination Law

A landmark Missouri case “simply recognizes the manifold ways sex discrimination manifests itself,” an appeals court ruled.

A Missouri Court of Appeals ruled this week that discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is prohibited under state laws barring sex discrimination.Missouri

“If the employer mistreats a male employee because the employer deems the employee insufficiently masculine, it is immaterial whether the male employee is gay or straight,” wrote Judge Anthony in Tuesday’s decision. “The prohibition against sex discrimination extends to all employees, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Tony Rothert of the ACLU of Missouri hailed the ruling as protecting not only LGBT Missourians but straight men and women who don’t conform to gender stereotypes.

The ruling stemmed from a 2014 case in which Harold Lampley, a gay man, claimed he was fired from the Missouri Department of Social Services because he didn’t meet his bosses’ expectation of how a man should behave. (A female coworker also sued, claiming she was retaliated against because she associated with Lampley.)

Lampley can now proceed with his case.

By Dan Avery, NewNowNext.com, October 26, 2017

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Irish government to pay for couples to have IVF treatment and outlaw commercial surrogacy

The Government will today commit to funding IVF treatment for couples unable to conceive from 2019.

Minister for Health Simon Harris is to bring a memo to Cabinet this morning outlining proposed regulatory measures for the area of assisted human reproduction.IVF

It is understood Mr Harris will commit to outlawing commercial surrogacy and the payment for egg, sperm or embryo donors.

The memo will provide for an ethical framework with clear rules for the welfare of the child, woman and informed consent.

Speaking on his way into the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, Mr Harris said that by the end of the year he wants to clarify for families what financial assistance would be available for IVF from 2019.

“I made it very clear that I want to put in place supports to help subsidise the cost of IVF for families,” Mr Harris said.

“One in six of us could experience infertility challenges at any time and I would like to by the end of the year be in a position to provide clarity to families in terms of what supports we may be able to provide from 2019.”

Mr Harris said the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill will “regulate this whole area”.

“I hope to send it to the Oireachtas Committee subject to Cabinet approval for pre-legislative scrutiny and get it passed into law in 2018 with the idea of having public subsidies for IVF for 2019,” he said.

The Irish Times, October 3, 2017

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New York’s Highest Court Gets Its First Openly Gay Jurist – Paul Feinman

The first openly gay member of New York state’s highest court, Paul Feinman, is being sworn in.

Judge Paul Feinman will formally take his place on the Court of Appeals following a ceremony Wednesday in Albany.Feinman

Feinman has been a judge for more than 20 years. He fills a vacancy created by the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who was found dead in the Hudson River near her Manhattan home in April.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated Feinman and has called him a “trailblazer” whose career has been dedicated to the causes of justice and fairness.

AP via edgemedianetwork.com, October 18, 2017

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