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The · Psychohistorian

Failing to tax the super rich

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George Lucas is making $4 billion from the sale of Lucasfilms to Disney, and he's donating it all to education. That makes Lucas seem like a nice person, which he is. But is he really giving up the money?

It turns out Lucas is chairman of Edutopia, an educational nonprofit foundation. He says he's going to "devote more time and resources to philanthropy" - shifting his focus away from filmmaking and toward his nonprofit, where the $4 billion will most likely end up. The money will be in a different organization, but it will be controlled by Lucas every bit as much as it was at Lucasfilms. Ultimately, Lucas will be spending the money as he already wanted to, anyway.

The difference, of course, is that the money won't be taxed. Ordinary earners can only donate a maximum of half our income to charity tax free, but because of loopholes specially set up for the super rich, donations like Lucas' can be entirely tax free, even though they comprise almost all of his income for the year. That way, Lucas gets to keep the 14% - about $560,000,000, more than most millionaires will make in their lifetimes - that would otherwise go to the federal government and help reduce the deficit.

Education is no doubt important to the future. But isn't it also important to the future to leave a financially sound government to the next generation? Lucas should be able to do with his money as he wants, but so should the rest of us - and if some of us need to pay some of our money towards a government that maintains the rule of law, shouldn't all of us?

And yet, none of the current proposals to "tax the rich" would tax even a penny of Lucas' $4 billion. They're just window dressing that lets the billionaires get off scot free.

Information on Lucas' donation:
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