Do Estate and Gift Taxes Affect the Timing of Private Transfers?
AbstractProposals to alter the estate tax are contentious and have been debated largely in an empirical vacuum. This paper examines time series and cross-sectional variation to identify the effects of gift and estate taxation on the timing of private transfers. The analysis is based on data from the 1989, 1992, 1995, and 1998 waves of the Surveys of Consumer Finances. Legislative activity during this period reduced the tax disadvantage of bequests relative to gifts. Moreover, the magnitude of this reduction differed systematically across identifiable household categories. We find that households experiencing larger declines in the expected tax disadvantages of bequests substantially reduced inter vivos transfers relative to households experiencing small declines in the tax disadvantages of bequests. This implies that the timing of transfers is highly responsive to applicable gift and estate tax rates. These conclusions are based both on simple comparisons of the probability of giving across different time periods and groups, and on empirical specifications that control for a variety of potentially confounding factors, such as systematic changes in the fraction of wealth attributable to unrealized capital gains. The results also provide evidence of a systematic bequest motive for some high-wealth households.
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 8333.
Date of creation: Jun 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Bernheim, B. Douglas, Robert J. Lemke and John Karl Scholz. "Do Estate And Gift Taxes Affect The Timing Of Private Transfers?," Journal of Public Economics, 2004, v88(12,Dec), 2617-2634.
Note: AG PE
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:
- 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.
- H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2001-06-22 (All new papers)
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.:
- Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
- McGarry, Kathleen, 2001. "The cost of equality: unequal bequests and tax avoidance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 179-204, January.
- Barro, Robert J., 1974.
"Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?,"
3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Becker, Gary S, 1974.
"A Theory of Social Interactions,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
- Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-77, June.
- Joulfaian, David, 1991. "Charitable Bequests and Estate Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 44(2), pages 169-80, June.
- Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1995.
"Estimating labour supply responses using tax reforms,"
IFS Working Papers
W95/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1998. "Estimating Labor Supply Responses Using Tax Reforms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 827-862, July.
- Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985.
"The Strategic Bequest Motive,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
- Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2001.
"Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity,"
NBER Working Papers
8158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wojciech Kopczuk & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate-Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 256-265, May.
- 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.
- 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.
- Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Donald Marples, 2001. "Distortion Costs of Taxing Wealth Accumulation: Income Versus Estate Taxes," NBER Working Papers 8261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- William G. Gale & Joel B. Slemrod, 2001. "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Tax: Overview," NBER Working Papers 8205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
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.