The disappearing estate tax

And more of the week's best financial insight

Estate tax.
(Image credit: alexskopje/iStock)

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

The disappearing estate tax

Revenue from the estate tax has been sliced in half in two years, said Ben Steverman in Bloomberg. "Just 1,275 wealthy families paid $9.3 billion in estate tax in 2020," according to the IRS's latest data release. As recently as 2018, the agency had collected more than $20 billion from nearly 5,500 families, and it averaged $17.9 billion in revenue in the four years before that. But "the dramatic decline is largely the result of the tax overhaul enacted by Republicans in 2017, which doubled the amount that wealthy couples can pass to heirs without triggering the levy" to $23.4 million. "The modern estate tax was introduced in 1916 to help counter the growth of dynastic wealth." Since 2016, U.S. billionaires have doubled their collective net worth to more than $5 trillion.

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Higher pay for MBAs

Starting pay for recent business-school graduates is hitting record highs, said Patrick Thomas in The Wall Street Journal. The median salary for an MBA is "projected to reach $115,000 — an all-time high — for 2021 graduates," after remaining flat at $105,000 a year ago. Already, there are signs of increased demand for young talent: The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School said 99 percent of its students seeking a job have received an offer, and the median salary grew $5,000 from a year ago to $155,000. "Consulting firms, banks, and tech companies" are among those willing to pay a premium for MBAs in a tight labor market. But salary gaps persist for women. Last year, women MBAs made an average of $147,000—20 percent less than their male counterparts.

Reducing office interruptions

"At some point in our careers, we've all encountered a talkative colleague," said Melody Wilding in Harvard Business Review. He or she might ping you on the work messaging system, drop by your desk, or buttonhole you after meetings. You might worry that setting boundaries on this "would offend them or otherwise rupture your relationship." But not doing that can foster resentment and hurt your productivity. Consider setting specific times to talk — similar to "office hours." Explain to colleagues when you're on a deadline or otherwise overstretched so they see things from your viewpoint. And if you sense an extended conversation coming, "drive toward a close," flagging that you are running out of time — "I have 15 minutes left" — and start to summarize.

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