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

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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File URL: http://www.econ.jku.at/papers/2011/wp1112.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2011-12.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2011_12
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Web page: http://www.econ.jku.at/
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  1. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2010. "Economics of estate taxation: a brief review of theory and evidence," NBER Working Papers 15741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1874, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 1997. "Redistribution with unobservable bequests: a case for taxing capital income," CORE Discussion Papers 1997070, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. 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.
  6. Wojciech Kopczuk & Joseph P. Lupton, 2004. "To leave or not to leave: the distribution of bequest motives," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech & Paul Eckerstorfer, 2010. "Optimal Taxes on Wealth and Consumption in the Presence of Tax Evasion," NRN working papers 2010-03, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  8. Emmanuel Farhi & Ivan Werning, 2006. "Progressive Estate Taxation," NBER Working Papers 12600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2008. "Optimum taxation of inheritances," Economics working papers 2008-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  10. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521130615 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. CREMER, Helmuth & PESTIEAU, Pierre & ROCHET, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," CORE Discussion Papers 2001020, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  13. 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.
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