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The legacy of the Swedish gift and inheritance tax, 1884–2004

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  • Ohlsson, Henry

    () (Department of Economics)

Abstract

This paper has two objectives. The first is to study the revenue from the gift, inheritance, and estate taxes in Sweden during more than a century. The second is to focus on a unique episode during the second half of the 1940s when gifts and gift tax revenue exploded. This episode has never before been discussed in the research literature. It gives an extremely clear illustration of behavioral response to taxes in general, and the impact of expectations of future tax increases in particular. It is also a very interesting episode in the economic history of Sweden. I have access to aggregate tax revenue data since 1884. Moreover, I have constructed a rich micro data set of all gifts reported during the period 1942–1949 in one county. A first main result is that gift tax revenue during the 1940s started to increase long before a new estate tax and increased wealth taxation were decided and implemented. The increase even began before the legislative process started. Second, both the number and the average values of gifts increased. Promissory notes were, in value, the most common way to give. Finally, gifts, inheritances, and estates were never important sources of tax revenue. Revenue as a share of GDP reached a peak already in the 1930s. The role of these taxes has instead primarily been equity and to provide integrity for other tax bases.

Suggested Citation

  • Ohlsson, Henry, 2007. "The legacy of the Swedish gift and inheritance tax, 1884–2004," Working Paper Series 2007:23, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2007_023
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    Cited by:

    1. Elinder, Mikael & Erixson, Oscar & Waldenström, Daniel, 2015. "Inheritance and wealth inequality: Evidence from population registers," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2015:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    2. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2012. "Taxation of Intergenerational Transfers and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 18584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Du Rietz, Gunnar & Henrekson, Magnus & Waldenström, Daniel, 2012. "Swedish Inheritance and Gift Taxation, 1885–2004," Working Paper Series 2012:18, Uppsala University, Department of Economics, revised 04 Aug 2015.
    4. Elinder Mikael & Erixson Oscar & Ohlsson Henry, 2012. "The Impact of Inheritances on Heirs' Labor and Capital Income," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-37, December.
    5. repec:spr:jopoec:v:30:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0651-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kopczuk, Wojciech, 2016. "U.S. capital gains and estate taxation: a status report and directions for a reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 11208, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. 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.
    8. Edoardo, Di Porto & Ohlsson, Henry, 2016. "Avoiding Taxes By Transfers Within The Family," Working Paper Series 2016:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    9. Elinder, Mikael & Erixson, Oscar & Escobar, Sebastian & Ohlsson, Henry, 2014. "Estates, bequests, and inheritances in Sweden - A look into the Belinda databases," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2014:14, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    10. Glogowsky, Ulrich, 2016. "Behavioral Responses to Wealth Transfer Taxation: Bunching Evidence from Germany," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145922, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2014. "Inherited wealth over the path of development: Sweden, 1810–2010," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2014:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    12. Henrekson Magnus & Rietz Gunnar Du, 2014. "The Rise and Fall of Swedish Wealth Taxation," Nordic Tax Journal, De Gruyter Open, vol. 2014(1), pages 9-35, May.
    13. Du Rietz, Gunnar & Henrekson, Magnus, 2014. "Swedish Wealth Taxation (1911–2007)," Working Paper Series 1000, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 10 Sep 2015.
    14. Erixson, Oscar, 2014. "Health Responses to a Wealth Shock: Evidence from a Swedish Tax Reform," Working Paper Series 1011, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gift tax; inheritance tax; estate tax; tax avoidance; expectations;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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