To make it sound more ambiguous and therefore more sexy, some past governments even labelled it "social justice legislation".
Thaksin Shinawatra, the country's richest man, was too busy launching his populist platform to listen to any proposed legislation to tax the incumbent premier's own family in a serious manner.
The Abhisit government didn't get into power because it was going to tax the rich more enthusiastically either. In fact, it was almost by accident that Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij was prompted to discuss this issue publicly.
It might even have come about as a joke. Some senior officials at the Finance Ministry's Fiscal Policy Office were teasing the new minister: If you really want to test your popularity, why not introduce land sales tax? Better yet, make inheritance tax your new drive.
Just as Korn was wondering why these two pieces of legislation were on the minds of the fiscal policy guys, he was reminded that every government that has threatened to bring up the issue was cut down soon after making noise about taxing the rich on their possessions, be it in the form of land or assets to be handed down to their children.
The finance minister surprised almost everybody by appearing to take up the gauntlet. But one has to appreciate the nuance to really understand the substance. He didn't say he was going to take the plunge. He simply retold the story to reporters. He didn't say he was taking up the challenge. He simply expressed interest in the sensitivity of these two areas of taxation.
The matter could have been considered dropped had Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva not picked it up in his latest Sunday television show. He sounded as if he was seriously considering making that long-anticipated move. But one has to read between the lines to really understand the language of political carrot dangling.
Abhisit said land and inheritance tax had been an issue for a long time. "Even when the Democrat Party was the government last time, and I was a minister, we were also planning to propose that piece of legislation. But the details weren't ready," he said.
The last time the Democrats were running Government House was quite a few years ago. The tax had to be put into action if the country was to become more equitable and democratic.
You would assume, wouldn't you, that if they really thought this tax was so crucial to creating social justice, they would have spent their time as the country's most effective opposition force by completing the nation's most comprehensive bill to make the rich pay higher taxes on their inherited possessions.
That, however, wasn't to be the case. It was a very important part of the party's platform. You guessed it; they always needed more time to study the implications of such a vital piece of legislation.
And don't ask the government when that study will be concluded.
In his own words, Abhisit said: "I consider this [land sales tax] part of the government policy. But I don't think we can push it within a month or two because it takes time to go through the law-drafting process. The time frame for this could be a year. But I think it's something we should initiate, should take action on. Inheritance tax is even more complicated … the difficulty is in identifying all the exceptions … those to be exempted."
It all sounded quite impressive. If you weren't really listening, you could get really excited about it. Wow, this government will finally bridge the rich-poor gap by taxing the haves to help the have-nots. You could even be lured into thinking that this isn't just a populist government making easy decisions to give away tax money to the poor. This is going to be a group of politicians with the guts to make unpopular decisions against the rich and powerful.
Alas, that isn't going to happen. The emphasis, please take note, is in the "exceptions" - not the rule. Once those who want to be exempted far exceed those included in the law, it's no law.
In other words, it's a good law, but we don't have enough good men to push it through. Therefore the few good men we have can only talk about it for now.