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Optimum Taxation of Bequests in a Model with Initial Wealth

  • Johann K. Brunner
  • Susanne Pech

We formulate an optimum-taxation model, where parents leave bequests to their descendants for altruistic reasons. In contrast to the standard model, individuals differ not only in earning abilities, but also in initial (inherited) wealth. In this model a redistributive motive for an inheritance tax - which is equivalent to a uniform tax on all expenditures - arises, given that initial wealth increases with earning abilities. Its introduction increases intertemporal social welfare or has an ambiguous effect, depending on whether the bequeathing generation can adjust their behaviour and whether the external effect related to altruism is accounted for in the social objective.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2977.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2977
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  1. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2008. "Optimum taxation of inheritances," Economics working papers 2008-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1999. "Capital Income Taxation when Inherited wealth is not Observable," IDEI Working Papers 109, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2001.
  3. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
  4. 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.
  5. repec:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:2:p:635-673 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The desirability of commodity taxation under non-linear income taxation and heterogeneous tastes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 217-230, February.
  7. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1997. "Redistribution with unobservable bequests: a case for taxing capital income," CORE Discussion Papers 1997070, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  8. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
  9. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech & Paul Eckerstorfer, 2010. "Optimal Taxes on Wealth and Consumption in the Presence of Tax Evasion," NRN working papers 2010-03, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  10. Masson, A. & Pestieau, P., 1996. "Bequests motives and models of inheritance: a survey of the literature," DELTA Working Papers 96-20, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  11. Kenneth L. Judd, 1982. "Redistributive Taxation in a Simple Perfect Foresight Model," Discussion Papers 572, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. Brunner Johann K. & Pech Susanne, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Wealth Transfers When Bequests are Motivated by Joy of Giving," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, March.
  13. John Laitner & F. Thomas Juster, 1993. "New evidence on altruism: a study of TIAA-CREF retirees," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 86, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
  15. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2006. "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
  16. Arrondel, L. & Laferrere, A., 1998. "Taxation and Wealth Transmission in France," DELTA Working Papers 98-13, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  17. repec:oup:restud:v:49:y:1982:i:4:p:637-43 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Ivan Werning, 2007. "New Dynamic Public Finance: A User's Guide," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 317-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. Laitner, J. & Ohlsson, H., 1998. "Bequest Motives: a Comparison of Sweden and the United States," Papers 1998:16, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  21. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
  22. repec:oup:restud:v:38:y:1971:i:114:p:175-208 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-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.
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