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Should Continued Family Firms Face Lower Taxes than other Estates?

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  • Holger Strulik
  • Volker Grossmann

Abstract

Inheritance taxes may induce heirs to discontinue family firms. Because firm dissolution incurs transaction costs, a preferential tax treatment of transferred family businesses seems to be desirable from a macroeconomic viewpoint. The support of dynastic succession, however, entails also a cost on the economy if firm continuation by less able heirs prevents entry into entrepreneurship. Here, we investigate analytically and quantitatively the trade-off between transaction costs saved and creative destruction prevented. We find that a unique general equilibrium exists at which, depending on the institutional setup, low-ability heirs either abandon (Type 1) or continue (Type 2) a family business. A calibration of the model with German data suggests that preferential tax treatment of family firms has severe negative consequences on macroeconomic performance if it causes a threshold crossing from Type 1 to Type 2 equilibrium. It also reveals that the targeted persons, i.e. the entrepreneurs that are caused to continue a business, always lose relative to their status in an economy without continuation-friendly tax policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Strulik & Volker Grossmann, 2008. "Should Continued Family Firms Face Lower Taxes than other Estates?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2235, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2235
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bequest taxation; creative destruction; entrepreneurship; family firms; preferential tax treatment;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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