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Optimum Taxation of Inheritance

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  • Johann K. Brunner
  • Susanne Pech

Abstract

Inheritances create a second distinguishing characteristic of individuals, in addition to earning abilities. We incorporate this fact into an optimum income taxation model with bequests motivated by joy of giving, and show that a tax on inherited wealth is equivalent to a uniform tax on consumption plus bequests. These taxes are desirable according to an intertemporal social objective if, on average, high-able individuals inherit more wealth than low-able. We demonstrate that such a situation results as the outcome of a process with stochastic transition of abilities over generations, if all descendants are more probable to have their parent’s ability rank than any other.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2008-02.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2008_02

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  1. Louis Kaplow, 2000. "A Framework for Assessing Estate and Gift Taxation," NBER Working Papers 7775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  3. Kessler, Denis & Masson, Andre, 1989. "Bequest and Wealth Accumulation: Are Some Pieces of the Puzzle Missing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 141-52, Summer.
  4. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1874, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre & ROCHET, Jean-Charles, . "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1700, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Seade, Jesus, 1982. "On the Sign of the Optimum Marginal Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 637-43, October.
  7. James B. Davies & Peter J. Kuhn, 1991. "A Dynamic Model of Redistribution, Inheritance, and Inequality," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(2), pages 324-44, May.
  8. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1997. "Redistribution with unobservable bequests: a case for taxing capital income," CORE Discussion Papers 1997070, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  9. Guesnerie Roger & Seade Jesus, 1981. "Nonlinear pricing in a finite economy," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 8118, CEPREMAP.
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  11. Bossmann, Martin & Kleiber, Christian & Walde, Klaus, 2007. "Bequests, taxation and the distribution of wealth in a general equilibrium model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1247-1271, August.
  12. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  13. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  14. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Johann K. Brunner, 2010. "Die Erbschaftssteuer im Modell der optimalen Besteuerung," Economics working papers 2010-14, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2010. "Optimum taxation of bequests in a model with initial wealth," NRN working papers 2010-02, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  3. Johann K. Brunner & Paul Eckerstorfer & Susanne Pech, 2010. "Optimal Taxes on Wealth and Consumption in the Presence of Tax Evasion," Economics working papers 2010-04, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  4. 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.

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