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Tax Breaks

Just Say No to Handouts for Sports Teams

Team owners should pay for their own facilities as other business do. Plus, is it okay to leave one child a larger inheritance than another?

There is talk in my city of a referendum on public financing of a new stadium to keep our pro sports team from moving to another city. Proponents say it will be an economic boon to a now-blighted part of town. What are the ethics of this?

I think it is unethical for team owners to demand -- and cities to offer -- free or low-cost land, tax abatements and other goodies for a facility that will primarily benefit one privately owned business. The same public funds would have much broader economic benefit if spent on improved public education, parks, mass transit and small-business development in the blighted area.

I wish taxpayers all over the country would resist this blackmail and make team owners pay for their own facilities, as other businesses do.

Leaving an unequal bequest

I am an elderly widow whose three grown children live nearby. My older son and daughter and their families, although cordial, don't take much interest in me or my need for help with many tasks around the home. The third, my younger daughter, has always been very attentive, with no prompting, as have her husband and kids. I would like to show my appreciation to her family by leaving them a larger bequest than her siblings. Would this be okay?


Yes. On a practical level, your younger daughter's help may be saving you a lot of money in professional services, even though her primary motivation is her love for you. It would be reasonable to recognize this with a somewhat larger bequest.

But make sure you explain it in your will as a special expression of gratitude. You don't owe any of your children an inheritance, but be aware that showing great favoritism toward one of them might cause long-lasting sibling resentment. That's why many estate planners suggest equal distributions.