Writing in the Business section of the New York Times, Paul Sullivan describes Trump’s tax plan as a path to “dynastic levels of wealth.”

He begins:

“If Donald J. Trump follows through on his campaign promises, a host of taxes that affect only the very richest Americans may be eliminated, along with almost all tax incentives to be philanthropic. As a result, wealthy families may find it much easier to amass dynastic levels of wealth.
At the top of the list is the estate tax. Currently, the rules are straightforward: A married couple is exempt for the first $10.9 million in their estate, and they pay a 40 percent tax on the amount above that.

“Mr. Trump’s campaign proposal seems straightforward: Repeal the estate tax — the death tax, in his words.

“Back in 2012, most tax experts had considered the estate tax issue resolved when, on New Year’s Eve, the Republican-majority Congress and President Obama reached a so-called grand bargain on taxes. As part of that deal, the current estate tax exemption was set, with annual increases indexed to inflation.

“With that agreement, more than 99 percent of Americans were exempted from the estate tax.
Last year, for example, the Internal Revenue Service processed just 4,918 federal estate tax returns (though it collected about $17 billion in taxes).

“Working on a policy to appease such a small number of people could be seen in two ways: a waste of political capital or an end to a tax that Republicans have historically decried as unfair and Democrats have held up as a guard against generational wealth.

“But Mr. Trump’s proposal is not as straightforward as simple repeal. His plan also said, “Capital gains held until death and valued over $10 million will be subject to tax to exempt small businesses and family farms.” In other words, the tax on capital gains above $10 million would have to paid only when, or if, the assets were sold.

“For some accountants, the proposal brought back memories of 2010, when the estate tax briefly expired and assets in a wealthy person’s estate were subject to capital gains tax on the appreciated value. This proved to be a headache. Few people keep sufficiently detailed records to find the original purchase price on stocks or to account for improvements to properties over decades.

“Yet the Trump plan, as some attorneys and accountants have read it, would allow the wealthiest heirs to never pay capital gains taxes if they did not sell what they inherited. This would be difficult for those with a modest inheritance because they generally sell and spend what they get. But it might not be for people with a large inheritance, like Mr. Trump’s children, who would receive a portfolio of income-producing real estate and golf courses, which they could borrow against and never sell.
“Most people who have substantial wealth have that wealth in capital assets that tend to grow in value,” said Marc J. Bloostein, partner in the private client group at Ropes & Gray. “It comes down to whether you’re going to sell those assets. Someone who inherits the family compound, that’s great. Someone who inherits a business on the auction block, you have to pay the taxes.”