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The legacy of the Swedish gift and inheritance tax, 1884–2004

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Author Info

  • Ohlsson, Henry

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

This paper has two objectives. The first is to study the revenue from the gift, inheritance, and estate taxes in Sweden during more than a century. The second is to focus on a unique episode during the second half of the 1940s when gifts and gift tax revenue exploded. This episode has never before been discussed in the research literature. It gives an extremely clear illustration of behavioral response to taxes in general, and the impact of expectations of future tax increases in particular. It is also a very interesting episode in the economic history of Sweden. I have access to aggregate tax revenue data since 1884. Moreover, I have constructed a rich micro data set of all gifts reported during the period 1942–1949 in one county. A first main result is that gift tax revenue during the 1940s started to increase long before a new estate tax and increased wealth taxation were decided and implemented. The increase even began before the legislative process started. Second, both the number and the average values of gifts increased. Promissory notes were, in value, the most common way to give. Finally, gifts, inheritances, and estates were never important sources of tax revenue. Revenue as a share of GDP reached a peak already in the 1930s. The role of these taxes has instead primarily been equity and to provide integrity for other tax bases.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Uppsala University, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 2007:23.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 10 Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published as Ohlsson, Henry, 'The legacy of the Swedish gift and inheritance tax, 1884–2004' in European Review of Economic History, 2011, pages 539-569.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2007_023

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P. O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: + 46 18 471 25 00
Fax: + 46 18 471 14 78
Email:
Web page: http://www.nek.uu.se/
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Related research

Keywords: gift tax; inheritance tax; estate tax; tax avoidance; expectations;

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References

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  1. Douhan, Robin & Nordberg, Anders, 2007. "Is the elephant stepping on its trunk? The problem of India´s unbalanced growth," Working Paper Series 2007:16, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Elinder Mikael & Erixson Oscar & Ohlsson Henry, 2012. "The Impact of Inheritances on Heirs' Labor and Capital Income," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-37, December.
  2. Erixson, Oscar, 2014. "Health Responses to a Wealth Shock: Evidence from a Swedish Tax Reform," Working Paper Series 1011, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  3. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2012. "Taxation of Intergenerational Transfers and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 18584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Erixson, Oscar, 2014. "Health responses to a wealth shock: Evidence from a Swedish tax reform," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2014:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  5. Du Rietz, Gunnar & Henrekson, Magnus, 2014. "Swedish Wealth Taxation, 1911–2007," Working Paper Series 1000, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 21 Mar 2014.

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