If you die in Oregon and made enough money, the taxman comes to collect.

Only about 2 percent of Oregonians must pay the state’s death tax. It’s only for estates that have a value greater than $1 million.

But we think the death tax should die.

One way to get rid of it was just certified to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot — the Death Tax Phase-Out. It basically phases out Oregon’s tax over four years.

Death taxes have had a pugnacious resilience. There’s evidence of a death tax in Egypt in 700 B.C. The Greeks and Romans had forms of them. The United States has had them nearly since its formation.

The Legislature debated Oregon’s death tax in 2011, but got the subject matter wrong. The proposal on the table was to tweak the law to make it more “fair” and tax richer estates more. The switch would have given Oregon the second-highest death tax rate in the country.

In a burst of clarity, legislators decided that was not a good message to send.

The Legislature’s compromise oozed into something almost equally disagreeable. It tweaked the qualifications so that more families will qualify.

“A discussion of whether we should have an estate tax or not is a discussion for another time, another place,” State Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, said at the time, according to The Oregonian.

The Legislature seems incorrigibly unable to find the time or the place.

Think about what the state’s death tax does. Oregon already taxes income. Then, when a person dies, if they have been successful enough, Oregon goes after that income again.

We don’t think the state should be looking for ways to punish success.

The discussions about abolishing Oregon’s death tax usually end as soon as people bring up the $100 million a year in revenue it delivers. But couldn’t getting rid of the death tax also benefit the state?

People who retire think about where to go. They think about being able to pass along what they have earned to their families.

A way to improve Oregon’s reputation as a great place to live and retire is to make it a place that doesn’t fine people for dying.

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