How Important Are Perpetual Tax Savings?
AbstractFederal estate taxes give very wealthy families incentives to transfer resources directly to distant generations in order to avoid taxes on successive rounds of transfers. Until recently such transfers were impeded by the rule against perpetuities, which prevented transfers to most potential not-yet-born beneficiaries. Many American states have recently repealed the rule against perpetuities, raising concerns that the combination of tax incentives and new legal rights encourages the devotion of vast wealth to perpetual trusts designed to benefit distant generations, avoid taxes, and maintain a degree of control over the financial affairs of descendants in perpetuity. This paper analyzes the incentives created by federal transfer taxes, finding the tax benefits from establishing perpetual trusts to be quite modest, in representative cases ranging from 9-25 percent of just one component of the cost. Contrary to popular claims, tax benefits decline as investment returns rise. While U.S. states that have repealed the rule against perpetuities and adopted other policies to encourage trusts host substantial trust assets, evidence from tax returns suggests that perpetual trusts are unlikely to account for a significant portion of this business. Consequently, tax incentives may not be responsible for an important shift of assets into perpetual trusts.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18553.
Date of creation: Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as How Important Are Perpetual Tax Savings? , James R. Hines Jr.. in Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 27 , Brown. 2013
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
- K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
- K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Nordblom, Katarina & Ohlsson, Henry, 2005.
"Tax Avoidance and Intra-Family Transfers,"
Working Paper Series
2005:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
- Page, Benjamin R., 2003. "Bequest taxes, inter vivos gifts, and the bequest motive," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1219-1229, May.
- Joulfaian, David, 2005.
"Choosing between gifts and bequests: How taxes affect the timing of wealth transfers,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2069-2091, December.
- David Joulfaian, 2005. "Choosing Between Gifts and Bequests: How Taxes Affect the Timing of Wealth Transfers," NBER Working Papers 11025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- B. Douglas Bernheim & Robert J. Lemke & John Karl Scholz, 2001.
"Do Estate and Gift Taxes Affect the Timing of Private Transfers?,"
NBER Working Papers
8333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bernheim, B. Douglas & Lemke, Robert J. & Scholz, John Karl, 2004. "Do estate and gift taxes affect the timing of private transfers?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2617-2634, December.
- Joulfaian, David & McGarry, Kathleen, 2004. "Estate and Gift Tax Incentives and Inter Vivos Giving," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 429-44, June.
- Poterba, James, 2001. "Estate and gift taxes and incentives for inter vivos giving in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 237-264, January.
- Wojciech Kopczuk, 2006.
"Bequest and Tax Planning: Evidence From Estate Tax Returns,"
NBER Working Papers
12701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wojciech Kopczuk, 2007. "Bequest and Tax Planning: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1801-1854, November.
- McGarry, Kathleen, 2001. "The cost of equality: unequal bequests and tax avoidance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 179-204, January.
- McGarry, Kathleen, 1999. "Inter vivos transfers and intended bequests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 321-351, September.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.