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Swedish Inheritance and Gift Taxation (1885–2004)

Author

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  • Henrekson, Magnus

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Du Rietz, Gunnar

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Waldenström, Daniel

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

Abstract

This paper studies the evolution of the modern Swedish inheritance taxation from its introduction in 1885 to its abolishment in 2004. A thorough description is offered of the basic principles of the tax, including underlying ideas and ambitions, tax schedules, and rules concerning valuation of assets, liability matters and deduction opportunities. Using these rules, we calculate inheritance tax rates for the whole period for a number of differently endowed family firms and individuals. The overall trend in inheritance tax burden exhibits an inverse-U shape for all firms and individuals. Up until World War II, inheritance tax rates were very low (never above six percent), but in the postwar era tax rates increased rapidly for both inherited firms and individual fortunes. Effective tax rates peaked in the mid-1970s. Valuation reliefs were introduced in the 1970s, which sharply reduced tax rates for inherited family businesses. Tax rates for deceased individuals were first cut in 1987 and then significantly reduced in 1991–1992. Finally, inheritance and gift tax revenues were relatively small, around a quarter of a percent of GDP.

Suggested Citation

  • Henrekson, Magnus & Du Rietz, Gunnar & Waldenström, Daniel, 2012. "Swedish Inheritance and Gift Taxation (1885–2004)," Working Paper Series 936, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 24 Nov 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0936
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    Cited by:

    1. Magnus Henrekson & Daniel Waldenström, 2016. "Inheritance taxation in Sweden, 1885–2004: the role of ideology, family firms, and tax avoidance," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1228-1254, November.
    2. Du Rietz, Gunnar & Henrekson, Magnus, 2014. "Swedish Wealth Taxation (1911–2007)," Working Paper Series 1000, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 10 Sep 2015.
    3. Stenkula, Mikael, 2013. "Taxation of Goods and Services in Sweden (1862 - 2010)," Working Paper Series 956, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 10 Sep 2015.
    4. Erixson, Oscar, 2014. "Health Responses to a Wealth Shock: Evidence from a Swedish Tax Reform," Working Paper Series 1011, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    5. Sina Önder, Ali & Terviö, Marko, 2013. "Is Economics a House Divided? Analysis of Citation Networks," Working Paper Series 2013:5, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    6. Stenkula, Mikael, 2014. "Taxation of Real Estate in Sweden (1862–2013)," Working Paper Series 1018, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 10 Sep 2015.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gift tax; Inheritance tax; Estate tax; Tax avoidance; Excess burden; Entrepreneurship; Ownership transfers of family firms;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law

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