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Taxing bequests and consumption in the steady state

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  • Johann Brunner
  • Susanne Pech

Abstract

We study the optimal tax system in a dynamic model where differences in wages induce differences in inheritances, and the transition from parent ability to child ability is described by a Markov chain. We characterize expected inheritances in the steady state and show that the Atkinson-Stiglitz result on the redundancy of indirect taxes does not hold in this framework. In particular, given an optimal income tax, a bequest tax as well as a consumption tax are potential instruments for additional redistribution. For the bequest tax the sign of the overall welfare e¤ect depends on the reaction of bequests and on inequality aversion, while for the consumption tax the sign is always positive because the distorting e¤ect is outweighed by the induced increase in wealth accumulation. A necessary condition for a positive welfare effect is the empirically validated relation that more able individuals on average have more able parents than less able individuals.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2013_15
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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

    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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