The New York Times shares this story about a Texas guy who made billions by burying natural gas pipelines, and then died this year and avoided estates taxes because of the generosity of President George W. Bush and Congress.

The guy’s $9 billion estate would have been taxed at between 45 to 55 percent had he died in 2009 or 2011, and the money would have gone to U.S. Treasury.


Instead, his heirs avoided billions in taxes because Congress allowed the tax to expire for one year.

The lucky break occurred because of what the Times called an “accounting quirk” that Bush signed into law in 2001.

Estate taxes are controversial and in many instances grossly unfair to families, so part of me is applauding the fact that Mr. Tax Man is getting shafted.

But, jeez, how does one guy get $9 billion from processing natural gas and running pipelines?

Guess that’s what happens in industries that lowball customers, cut corners on safety and environmental concerns, and spread millions of dollars around Austin and Washington to ensure favorable laws and lax regulation.


  1. Let’s pretend that this guy owned the pipeline that exploded in Johnson County. Let’s say the TX RRC found him guilty of negligence. Their maximum fine is $25,000. Do the math $9,000,000,000. – $25,000. = he doesn’t give a damn. (The RRC brags that they collected 1 million dollars last year from pipeline fines.) Now he gets away with paying no taxes when po folks like us pay for him. Something is wrong with this picture. Where’s a Tea Party activist when you need one.