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Estate Taxes and Charitable Bequests by the Wealthy

  • Joulfaian, David

Charitable bequests are an important source of philanthropic support. Unlike bequests to children, which can be taxed at a maximum statutory rate of 0.55, such transfers are exempt from estate taxation. Thus, by lowering the price of charitable giving, the estate tax may influence the disposition of terminal wealth. In this paper, I examine the effects of estate taxation on charitable bequests using data from estate tax returns of decedents in 1992. The results suggest that the estate tax deduction is "budget" efficient. The overall effects of the estate tax, however, are modest; while the tax stimulates giving by lowering the tax price, it also discourages giving as it reduces terminal wealth.

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Article provided by National Tax Association in its journal National Tax Journal.

Volume (Year): 53 (2000)
Issue (Month): n. 3 (September)
Pages: 743-64

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Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:53:y:2000:i:n._3:p:743-64
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  1. Boskin, Michael J., 1976. "Estate taxation and charitable bequests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1-2), pages 27-56.
  2. Auten, Gerald & Joulfaian, David, 1996. "Charitable contributions and intergenerational transfers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 55-68, January.
  3. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486.
  4. Wilhelm, Mark O, 1996. "Bequest Behavior and the Effect of Heirs' Earnings: Testing the Altruistic Model of Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 874-92, September.
  5. Joulfaian, David, 1991. "Charitable Bequests and Estate Taxes," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 44(2), pages 169-80, June.
  6. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, August.
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