Unlike Hillary Clinton, I’ve been a lifelong Yankee fan. I have on my wall a poster with the signatures of every Yankee member of the 1961 world championship team. My favorite baseball is one signed “To Dr. S” by Mickey Mantle.
Long-time owner George Steinbrenner, who died on July 13 at the age of 80, was a true-blue Yankee. After all, he was born on the Fourth of July, 1930. Sure, “The Boss” was overbearing and sometimes uncivil (his language was so profane I couldn’t read his latest biography), but he was an All-American winner who demanded success and a clean-cut image for the Bronx Bombers (haircuts and covering up tattoos). And he wasn’t apologetic for his riches.
He got the last laugh by dying after winning the World Series and then avoiding the dreaded federal estate tax. The death tax is dead for 2010, but I’m sure it will return with a vengeance next year. His heirs saved $500 million in federal estate taxes this year (he was worth more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine).
But there’s a downside to the new estate tax law. In eliminating the estate tax in 2010, Congress also ended the stepped-up basis for heirs. One hand giveth and the other taketh away. So the Steinbrenner sons don’t have to pay any taxes now, but when they sell their ownership in the Yankees and other assets, they will have to pay capital gains. Ben Franklin is still right: “There is nothing certain in this world except death and taxes.”