Why aren’t you paying the estate tax? Maybe because you bought 311,000 bottles of whisky.

 In U.S.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

There have been a number of exotic rationales introduced in defense of the Republican tax bill that passed the Senate in the early hours of Saturday. None, however, sparked quite the same reaction as one introduced by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

Talking to the Des Moines Register, Grassley argued fervently for a repeal of the estate tax, a tax that applies to a small percentage of high-value estates each year.

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told the newspaper, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

The argument, then: If, instead of blowing your money on booze and “women,” you were to invest it, you too could have an estate large enough to qualify.

The Senate on Dec. 2 passed a Republican bill overhauling the tax code. The bill passed by a 51-49 vote. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

How much are we talking about? Well, in 2017, the estate tax applies only to estates worth $5.49 million or more. In the interest of providing life advice to our readers, we decided to figure out just how much you’d need to cut back on your booze and moving pictures to save enough to qualify for that tax.


The most popular liquor in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register, is Black Velvet Canadian whisky. (Note: The Post spells the name of the drink as “whiskey” unless it’s Canadian or Scotch.)

Local grocery giant Hy-Vee doesn’t list prices for the drink on its website, so we called a Des Moines-area Walmart. There, a 1.75-liter bottle costs $17.67. So we can do the math.

For an Iowan to save enough to qualify for the estate tax simply by cutting out her favorite liquor, she would simply need to buy 310,697 fewer bottles of it. If she usually goes through a bottle a day — an unhealthy habit, to be sure — she simply needs to stop doing so for 851 years to save the $5.5 million or so.

Or, if she is perhaps instead the generous type, she should cut down on giving out free shots to other people. How many shots? 310,697 bottles of Black Velvet generate about 12.3 million shots — enough to provide about four shots for every resident of the state.

Sorry, Iowans, you’ll have to buy four shots of whisky (or whiskey) out of your own pocket. This lady over here is trying to build an estate.


Some people have questioned what, exactly, Grassley means by spending money on “women.” I saw one person on social media mention “escorts,” which I’m a bit confused by. If you wanted to, though, you could save for your estate by deciding against buying 2,501 used Ford Escorts near Des Moines — not to mention what you’d save on parking.

Let’s instead assume that Grassley meant that you should cut down on taking women on dates. (At no point in time did I describe my courtship of my wife as “spending money on women,” but who am I to judge?) We found a list of 25 date ideas in Des Moines, including a night at a restaurant called Django, which appears not to be a theme restaurant related to the Quentin Tarantino movie.

At Django, figure you would spend about $66 on two entrees, an appetizer and a couple of drinks, plus tax and tip. To instead have enough money in the bank to qualify for the estate tax, you’d simply need to go to Django 83,182 fewer times. If you usually go every weekend evening, just stop going for the next 800 years. Put that money in the bank, and then you, too, can pay the estate tax, assuming it doesn’t change between now and the year 2817.

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