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Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate-Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity

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  • Wojciech Kopczuk

    (University of British Columbia)

  • Joel Slemrod

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

This paper examines data from U.S. federal tax returns to shed light on whether the timing of death is responsive to its tax consequences. We investigate the temporal pattern of deaths around the time of changes in the estate-tax system periods when living longer, or dying sooner, could significantly affect estate-tax liability. We find some evidence that there is a small death elasticity, although we cannot rule out that what we have uncovered is ex post doctoring of the reported date of death. © 2003 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:85:y:2003:i:2:p:256-265
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William G. Gale & Joel B. Slemrod, 2001. "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Tax: Overview," NBER Working Papers 8205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Scholes, Ms & Wilson, Gp & Wolfson, Ma, 1992. "Firms Responses To Anticipated Reductions In Tax Rates - The Tax-Reform Act Of 1986," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30, pages 161-185.
    3. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
    4. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A., 1995. "Does the Income Tax Affect Marital Decisions?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 565-72, December.
    5. Sjoquist, David L. & Walker, Mary Beth, 1995. "The Marriage Tax and the Rate and Timing of Marriage," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 547-58, December.
    6. Gelardi, Alexander M.G., 1996. "The Influence of Tax Law Changes on the Timing of Marriages: A Two-Country Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(1), pages 17-30, March.
    7. Gelardi, Alexander M.G., 1996. "The Influence of Tax Law Changes on the Timing of Marriages: A Two-Country Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 49(1), pages 17-30, March.
    8. Sjoquist, David L. & Walker, Mary Beth, 1995. "The Marriage Tax and the Rate and Timing of Marriage," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 48(4), pages 547-558, December.
    9. Burman, Leonard E & Randolph, William C, 1994. "Measuring Permanent Responses to Capital-Gains Tax Changes in Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 794-809, September.
    10. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A., 1995. "Does the Income Tax Affect Marital Decisions?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 48(4), pages 565-572, December.
    11. Joel Slemrod & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2000. "The Impact of the Estate Tax on the Wealth Accumulation and Avoidance Behavior of Donors," NBER Working Papers 7960, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
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    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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