Friday, November 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Can you accumulate too much wealth?

DEAR HARRY: I am married and have three sons, one of whom is 27 and handicapped. My wife suffers from a bipolar mental condition. She worked for 34 years and now gets $1,700 a month from Social Security Disability.

Our handicapped son probably will never be able to hold a job and gets enough from SSD that he is almost no financial burden. We own our home outright, a nice car, a couple of IRAs, some mutual funds and stock. We have no debt. We live modestly.

A friend yesterday scared us about accumulating too much. He said that there is a limit, which he did not know. What's the deal here, Harry? Is he right?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Over at least a century, a number of economists have touched upon a tax on wealth to try to eliminate the vast gap between the few very rich and the many who are just getting by. As of this moment, there is no such tax in any of the advanced countries of the world, even in communist China or Russia. A recent book by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, has raised the issue again. They insist that we're in for a lot of trouble if we don't somehow do more to reduce that huge gap.

The view of most economists today is that the worst that can happen is an increase in estate taxes. At present, they don't kick in until your estate (for you and your wife combined) exceeds $10 million. Stop worrying about this!


Email Harry Gross at, or write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107. Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red-Cross.

Harry Gross Daily News Personal Finance Columnist
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