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Optimum Taxation of Inheritances

  • Johann K. Brunner
  • Susanne Pech

We incorporate the fact that inheritances create a second distinguishing characteristic of individuals, in addition to earning abilities, into an optimum income taxation model with bequests motivated by joy of giving. We show that a tax on inheritances and a uniform tax on all expenditures including bequests are equivalent and that either is desirable, according to an intertemporal social objective, if on average high-able individuals have larger inherited endowments than low-able. We demonstrate that such a situation results as the outcome of a process with stochastic transition of abilities over generations, if all descendants are more probable to have their parent’s ability rank than any other.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2319.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2319
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  1. James B. Davies & Peter J. Kuhn, 1991. "A Dynamic Model of Redistribution, Inheritance, and Inequality," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(2), pages 324-44, May.
  2. Bossmann, Martin & Kleiber, Christian & Walde, Klaus, 2007. "Bequests, taxation and the distribution of wealth in a general equilibrium model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1247-1271, August.
  3. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rior-Rull, 2002. "Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-35.
  4. Guesnerie, Roger & Seade, Jesus, 1982. "Nonlinear pricing in a finite economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 157-179, March.
  5. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  6. Seade, Jesus, 1982. "On the Sign of the Optimum Marginal Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 637-43, October.
  7. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice & Pestieau, Pierre, 2000. " Redistribution with Unobservable Bequests: A Case for Taxing Capital Income," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(2), pages 253-67, June.
  8. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Direct versus Indirect Taxation: The Design of the Tax Structure Revisted," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 781-99, August.
  9. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2475-2490, October.
  10. Louis Kaplow, 2000. "A Framework for Assessing Estate and Gift Taxation," NBER Working Papers 7775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. William G. Gale & Joel B. Slemrod, 2001. "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Tax: Overview," NBER Working Papers 8205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  13. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1874, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  16. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  17. Kessler, Denis & Masson, Andre, 1989. "Bequest and Wealth Accumulation: Are Some Pieces of the Puzzle Missing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 141-52, Summer.
  18. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1972. "The structure of indirect taxation and economic efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 97-119, April.
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