AP: How Dare Steinbrenner Die in 2010

How do you honor a man who built a $1.3 billion baseball dynasty and revived one of the most iconic American sports franchises? If you’re the Associated Press, you whine that he avoided the estate tax.

In a July 14 article, the Associated Press bemoaned that Steinbrenner died in a year with a “quirky tax situation” due to the suspended estate tax. The AP complained that the estate tax suspension “deprives the government of billions of dollars in tax revenue” yet gives the deceased heirs “an unexpected bonanza for those who inherit wealth:”

Attorney and estate planner Jack Nuckolls told the AP that, “If you’re super-wealth, it’s a good year to die. It really is.”

The AP tactfully noted that if Steinbrenner had not so selfishly waited to pass away, and instead died in 2009, he would have paid half a billion dollars in taxes.

“Forbes magazine has estimated Steinbrenner's estate at $1.1 billion. The federal estate tax in 2009 was 45 percent, with the $3.5 million per-person exemption. If he had died last year, his estate could thus have faced federal taxes of almost $500 million, depending on how the estate was structured.”

This is the second time this summer the media have been frustrated by a wealthy person “dying in a good year” and avoiding the estate tax. The media frequently advocate higher taxes on the wealthy but usually wait more than a day after they’ve died to publicly envy their success.