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Should Continued Family Firms Face Lower Taxes than other Estates?

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  • Holger Strulik
  • Volker Grossmann

Abstract

Inheritance taxes may induce heirs to discontinue family firms. Because firm dissolution incurs transaction costs, a preferential tax treatment of transferred family businesses seems to be desirable from a macroeconomic viewpoint. The support of dynastic succession, however, entails also a cost on the economy if firm continuation by less able heirs prevents entry into entrepreneurship. Here, we investigate analytically and quantitatively the trade-off between transaction costs saved and creative destruction prevented. We find that a unique general equilibrium exists at which, depending on the institutional setup, low-ability heirs either abandon (Type 1) or continue (Type 2) a family business. A calibration of the model with German data suggests that preferential tax treatment of family firms has severe negative consequences on macroeconomic performance if it causes a threshold crossing from Type 1 to Type 2 equilibrium. It also reveals that the targeted persons, i.e. the entrepreneurs that are caused to continue a business, always lose relative to their status in an economy without continuation-friendly tax policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2235.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2235

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Keywords: bequest taxation; creative destruction; entrepreneurship; family firms; preferential tax treatment;

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References

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  1. Andrei Shleifer & Fausto Panunzi & Mike Burkart, 2002. "Family Firms," FMG Discussion Papers dp406, Financial Markets Group.
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Cited by:
  1. Ines Lindner & Holger Strulik, 2012. "From Tradition to Modernity: Economic Growth in a Small World," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-035/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Grossmann, Volker & Strulik, Holger, 2008. "Should Continued Family Firms Face Lower Taxes Than Other Estates?," Diskussionspapiere der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Leibniz Universität Hannover dp-387, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  3. Houben, Henriette & Maiterth, Ralf, 2009. "Inheritance tax-exempt transfer of German businesses: Imperative or unjustified subsidy? An empirical analysis," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 95, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  4. Houben, Henriette & Maiterth, Ralf, 2009. "Zurück zum Zehnten: Modelle für die nächste Erbschaftsteuerreform," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 69, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  5. Johann K. Brunner, 2012. "The Bequest Tax as Long-Term Care Insurance," CESifo Working Paper Series 3901, CESifo Group Munich.

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