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Optimum Taxation of Bequests in a Model with Initial Wealth

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  • Johann K. Brunner
  • Susanne Pech

Abstract

We formulate an optimum-taxation model, where parents leave bequests to their descendants for altruistic reasons. In contrast to the standard model, individuals differ not only in earning abilities, but also in initial (inherited) wealth. In this model a redistributive motive for an inheritance tax - which is equivalent to a uniform tax on all expenditures - arises, given that initial wealth increases with earning abilities. Its introduction increases intertemporal social welfare or has an ambiguous effect, depending on whether the bequeathing generation can adjust their behaviour and whether the external effect related to altruism is accounted for in the social objective.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2977.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2977

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Keywords: optimum taxation; taxation of bequests;

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References

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  1. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  2. Emmanuel Farhi & Ivan Werning, 2006. "Progressive Estate Taxation," NBER Working Papers 12600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Wilhelm, Mark O, 1996. "Bequest Behavior and the Effect of Heirs' Earnings: Testing the Altruistic Model of Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 874-92, September.
  4. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Direct versus Indirect Taxation: The Design of the Tax Structure Revisted," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 781-99, August.
  5. Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The desirability of commodity taxation under non-linear income taxation and heterogeneous tastes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 217-230, February.
  6. Seade, Jesus, 1982. "On the Sign of the Optimum Marginal Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 637-43, October.
  7. Johann Brunner & Paul Eckerstorfer & Susanne Pech, 2013. "Optimal taxes on wealth and consumption in the presence of tax evasion," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 107-124, October.
  8. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Redistribution with unobservable bequests: a case for taxing capital income," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1457, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  9. Webley,Paul & Robben,Henry & Elffers,Henk & Hessing,Dick (ed.), 2010. "Tax Evasion," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521130615, 9.
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  11. Laitner, John & Ohlsson, Henry, 1998. "Bequest Motives: A Comparison of Sweden and the United States," Working Paper Series, Uppsala University, Department of Economics 1998:16, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  12. Masson, A. & Pestieau, P., 1996. "Bequests motives and models of inheritance: a survey of the literature," DELTA Working Papers 96-20, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  13. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Ivan Werning, 2007. "New Dynamic Public Finance: A User's Guide," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 317-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2008. "Optimum Taxation of Inheritance," NRN working papers 2008-02, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  15. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2006. "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier, Elsevier.
  16. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1999. "Capital Income Taxation when Inherited wealth is not Observable," IDEI Working Papers 109, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2001.
  17. Arrondel, Luc & Laferrere, Anne, 2001. "Taxation and wealth transmission in France," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 3-33, January.
  18. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1991. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 624, UCLA Department of Economics.
  19. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
  20. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  21. Brunner Johann K. & Pech Susanne, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Wealth Transfers When Bequests are Motivated by Joy of Giving," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, March.
  22. John Laitner & F. Thomas Juster, 1993. "New evidence on altruism: a study of TIAA-CREF retirees," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 86, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  23. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rior-Rull, 2002. "Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-35.
  24. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2011. "Optimal taxation of wealth transfers when bequests are motivated by joy of giving," Economics working papers 2011-12, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2013. "Taxing Bequests and Consumption in the Steady State," CESifo Working Paper Series 4453, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Johann K. Brunner, 2012. "The Bequest Tax as Long-Term Care Insurance," CESifo Working Paper Series 3901, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Johann K. Brunner, 2010. "Die Erbschaftssteuer im Modell der optimalen Besteuerung," Economics working papers 2010-14, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

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