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Should Continued Family Firms Face Lower Taxes Than Other Estates?

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  • Grossmann, Volker
  • Strulik, Holger

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

  • Grossmann, Volker & Strulik, Holger, 2008. "Should Continued Family Firms Face Lower Taxes Than Other Estates?," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-387, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  • Handle: RePEc:han:dpaper:dp-387
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Houben, Henriette & Maiterth, Ralf, 2009. "Zurück zum Zehnten: Modelle für die nächste Erbschaftsteuerreform," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 69, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    2. James R Hines Jr & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem & Christoph Schinke, 2015. "Inter vivos transfers of ownership in family firms," Working Papers 1523, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    3. Stefan Bach, 2016. "Erbschaftsteuer, Vermögensteuer oder Kapitaleinkommensteuer: Wie sollen hohe Vermögen stärker besteuert werden?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1619, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Grossmann, Volker & Strulik, Holger, 2010. "Should continued family firms face lower taxes than other estates?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 87-101, February.
    5. repec:eee:labeco:v:51:y:2018:i:c:p:108-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Bierbrauer Felix J., 2016. "Effizienz oder Gerechtigkeit?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 2-24, April.
    7. Felix Bierbrauer, 2016. "Effizienz oder Gerechtigkeit? Ungleiche Einkommen, ungleiche Vermögen und die Theorie der optimalen Besteuerung," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2016_03, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    8. Lindner, Ines & Strulik, Holger, 2014. "From tradition to modernity: Economic growth in a small world," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 17-29.
    9. Houben, Henriette & Maiterth, Ralf, 2009. "Inheritance tax-exempt transfer of German businesses: Imperative or unjustified subsidy? An empirical analysis," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 95, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    10. Florian Dorn & Björn Kauder & Manuela Krause & Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "Die Erbschaftsteuer in Deutschland – Reformbedarf und Reformkompromiss," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 70(01), pages 33-40, January.
    11. Brunner Johann K., 2014. "Die Erbschaftsteuer – Bestandteil eines optimalen Steuersystems?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 199-218, October.
    12. Johann K. Brunner, 2012. "The Bequest Tax as Long-Term Care Insurance," CESifo Working Paper Series 3901, CESifo Group Munich.

    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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