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Optimal taxation of wealth transfers when bequests are motivated by joy of giving

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Abstract

Inherited wealth creates a second distinguishing characteristic of individuals, in addition to earning abilities. We incorporate this fact into a model of optimal labor income taxation, with bequests motivated by joy of giving. We find that taxes on bequests or on inheritances allow further redistribution, if in the parent generation initial wealth and earning abilities are positively related. On the other hand, these taxes distort the bequest decision; thus, the overall effect on social welfare is ambiguous. A tax on all expenditures of a generation (a uniform tax on consumption plus bequests) has the same redistributive effect as an inheritance tax but does not distort the bequest decision.

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  • Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2011. "Optimal taxation of wealth transfers when bequests are motivated by joy of giving," Economics working papers 2011-12, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2011_12
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    1. Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2010. "Progressive Estate Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 635-673.
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    5. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    6. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2008. "Optimum taxation of inheritances," Economics working papers 2008-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
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    8. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Bequests in a Model with Initial Wealth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1368-1392, December.
    9. Johann Brunner & Paul Eckerstorfer & Susanne Pech, 2013. "Optimal taxes on wealth and consumption in the presence of tax evasion," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 107-124, October.
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    11. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice & Pestieau, Pierre, 2000. " Redistribution with Unobservable Bequests: A Case for Taxing Capital Income," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(2), pages 253-267, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robin Boadway & Katherine Cuff, 2015. "Tax treatment of bequests when donor benefits are discounted," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(4), pages 604-634, August.
    2. Johann Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2013. "Taxing bequests and consumption in the steady state," Economics working papers 2013-15, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    3. Johann Brunner & Paul Eckerstorfer & Susanne Pech, 2013. "Optimal taxes on wealth and consumption in the presence of tax evasion," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 107-124, October.
    4. Johann K. Brunner, 2012. "The Bequest Tax as Long-Term Care Insurance," CESifo Working Paper Series 3901, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Bequests in a Model with Initial Wealth," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1368-1392, December.
    6. Brunner Johann K., 2014. "Die Erbschaftsteuer – Bestandteil eines optimalen Steuersystems?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 199-218, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    optimal taxation; inheritance tax; expenditure tax; intergenerational wealth transfer;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies

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