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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Delaying the Inevitable

The Australian government awarded women giving birth on or after July 1, 2004, a $3,000 "maternity payment." This had a predictable result:

Birth records for 2004 show 490 babies were delivered on June 30, one of the quietest days in the year for midwives and obstetricians. The babies' parents received no bonus.

But on July 1, the first day of the $3000 bonus, the number of births doubled to 978, making it the busiest birth day in 30 years of Bureau of Statistics data. The next day, July 2, recorded 902 births. This was the seventh most popular birthday in the three decades. [Link]
The two researchers who discovered this "shifting" of births also found that several rich Aussies "shifted" their deaths from June to July 1979 to avoid a soon-to-be-abolished inheritance tax. They predict that the same effect will be witnessed in the U. S. in a few years.
"Under current United States law, the estate of an individual worth more than 3.5 million dollars will be taxed at a marginal rate of 45 percent if they die in the final week of December 2009, but untaxed if they die in the first week of January 2010," they wrote.

"Even the super-rich cannot cheat death forever, but some may be able to stay alive long enough to avoid the estate tax." [Link]

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