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Accidental bequests: a curse for the rich and a boon for the poor

Author

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  • Cremer, Helmuth
  • Gahvari, Firouz
  • Pestieau, Pierre

Abstract

When accidental bequests signal otherwise unobservable individual characteristics such as productivity and longevity, the tax administration should partition the population into two groups: One consisting of people who do not receive an inheritance and the other of those who do. The first tagged group gets a second-best tax à la Mirrlees; the second group a first-best tax schedule. The solution implies that receiving an inheritance makes high-ability types worse off and low-ability types better off. High-ability individuals will necessarily face a bequest tax of more than 100%, while low-ability types face a bequest tax that can be smaller as well as larger than 100%. With a Rawlsian social welfare function, the low-ability types too face a more than 100% tax on bequests.

Suggested Citation

  • Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Pestieau, Pierre, 2009. "Accidental bequests: a curse for the rich and a boon for the poor," IDEI Working Papers 591, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  • Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:21602
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2002. "Wealth transfer taxation with both accidental and planned bequests," CORE Discussion Papers 2002059, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    3. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2003. "The Trick Is to Live: Is the Estate Tax Social Security for the Rich?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1318-1341, December.
    4. Antoine Bommier, 2006. "Uncertain Lifetime And Intertemporal Choice: Risk Aversion As A Rationale For Time Discounting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1223-1246, November.
    5. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
    6. 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.
    7. repec:adr:anecst:y:2006:i:83-84:p:05 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Helmuth Cremer & Firouz Gahvari & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur, 2010. "Tagging and Income Taxation: Theory and an Application," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 31-50, February.
    9. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yu-Fu Chen & Michael Funke, 2010. "Global Warming And Extreme Events: Rethinking The Timing And Intensity Of Environmental Policy," Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 236, Economic Studies, University of Dundee.
    2. Marc Fleurbaey & Marie-Louise Leroux & Pierre Pestieau & Grégory Ponthière & Stéphane Zuber, 2017. "Premature Deaths, Accidental Bequests and Fairness," Cahiers de recherche 1704, Chaire de recherche Industrielle Alliance sur les enjeux économiques des changements démographiques.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Accidental bequests; estate tax; tagging; first best; second best;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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