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Death and Taxes

It's the ultimate revenge. Milliken & Co. Chairman Roger Milliken died on Dec. 30 at age 95, hours before the estate tax jumped to 35 percent on Jan. 1. In 2003, Forbes estimated his fortune, derived from the Spartanburg, S.C., maker of textiles and chemicals, at $1 billion. Now it passes tax-free to his heirs. "His timing was impeccable," says Jock Nash, his trade lobbyist. In 1916, his grandfather, company co-founder Seth Milliken, gave company shares to his children before dying, hoping to avoid a newly created estate tax. The Supreme Court later ruled those gifts were subject to the tax. Roger Milliken, a staunch Republican, opposed unions and trade deals, especially NAFTA. "He lived out every minute of every day of his life," says company spokesman Richard Dillard.

Donmoyer is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

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