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A Framework for Assessing Estate and Gift Taxation

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  • Louis Kaplow

Abstract

Whether and how estates and gifts should be taxed has long been a controversial subject, and the approach to estate and gift taxation varies among developed countries. Arguments for and against various forms of transfer taxation have focused on concerns about the distribution of income and wealth, intergenerational equity, raising revenue, savings incentives, and other economic and philosophical issues. This essay has two purposes. The first is to examine the conceptual basis for various arguments for and against the current estate and gift tax regime and proposed alternatives. The second is to integrate policy analysis of transfer taxation with that of the rest of the tax system, notably, the income tax. The analysis begins by considering how it would be optimal to tax transfers if they are viewed simply one of many forms of expenditure by donors, and then it explores how the distinctive features of gifts and bequests may alter the conclusions. The importance of different transfer motives is discussed, and the analysis is reconsidered in the light of the importance of human capital in intergenerational transfers; differences between inter vivos transfers and bequests, between gifts to individuals and gifts to charitable institutions, and among gifts to donees having varying relationships to the donor; and the possibility that transfers are not explained by maximizing behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7775.

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Date of creation: Jul 2000
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Publication status: published as Gale, William G., James R. Hines Jr., and Joel Slemrod (eds.) Rethinking estate and gift taxation. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2001.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7775

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Cited by:
  1. Cassone, Alberto & Marchese, Carla, 2001. "Should the death tax die? And should it leave an inheritance?," POLIS Working Papers 22, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  2. Rebelein, Robert P., 2005. "Intergenerational Strategic Behavior and Crowding Out in a General Equilibrium Model," Vassar College Department of Economics Working Paper Series 74, Vassar College Department of Economics.
  3. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2001. "Fiscal policy in a growth model with bequest-as-consumption," CORE Discussion Papers 2001009, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Tomer Blumkin & Efraim Sadka, 2001. "Estate Taxation," CESifo Working Paper Series 558, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2008. "Optimum taxation of inheritances," Economics working papers 2008-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  6. Johann K. Brunner, 2010. "Die Erbschaftssteuer im Modell der optimalen Besteuerung," NRN working papers 2010-18, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  7. Helmuth Cremer & Pierre Pestieau, 2003. "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey," DELTA Working Papers 2003-20, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  8. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2004. "The tax treatment of intergenerational wealth transfers," CORE Discussion Papers 2004062, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).

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