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Optimum taxation of bequests in a model with initial wealth

  • Johann K. Brunner
  • Susanne Pech

We formulate an optimum-taxation model, where parents leave bequests to their descendants for altruistic reasons. In contrast to the standard model, individuals differ not only in earning abilities, but also ininitial (inherited) wealth. In this model a redistributive motive for an inheritance tax - which is equivalent to a uniform tax on all expenditures - arises, given that initial wealth increases with earning abilities. Its introduction increases intertemporal social welfare or has an ambiguous effect, depending on whether the bequeathing generation can adjust their behaviour and whether the external effect related to altruism is accounted for in the social objective.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2010-02.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2010_02
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  1. BOADWAY, Robin & MARCHAND, Maurice & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Redistribution with unobservable bequests: a case for taxing capital income," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1457, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1999. "Capital Income Taxation when Inherited wealth is not Observable," IDEI Working Papers 109, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2001.
  3. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rior-Rull, 2002. "Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-35.
  4. Masson, A. & Pestieau, P., . "Bequests motives and models of inheritance: A survey of the literature," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1273, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. 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.
  6. Wilhelm, Mark O, 1996. "Bequest Behavior and the Effect of Heirs' Earnings: Testing the Altruistic Model of Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 874-92, September.
  7. Emmanuel Saez, 2000. "The Desirability of Commodity Taxation under Non-Linear Income Taxation and Heterogeneous Tastes," NBER Working Papers 8029, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Emmanuel Farhi & Iván Werning, 2010. "Progressive Estate Taxation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 635-673, May.
  9. Arrondel, Luc & Laferrere, Anne, 2001. "Taxation and wealth transmission in France," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 3-33, January.
  10. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2001. "Direct versus Indirect Taxation: The Design of the Tax Structure Revisted," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 781-99, August.
  11. Brunner Johann K. & Pech Susanne, 2012. "Optimal Taxation of Wealth Transfers When Bequests are Motivated by Joy of Giving," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, March.
  12. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
  13. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
  14. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre, 2006. "Wealth transfer taxation: a survey of the theoretical literature," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
  15. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
  16. Laitner, J. & Ohlsson, H., 1998. "Bequest Motives: a Comparison of Sweden and the United States," Papers 1998:16, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  17. Laitner, John & Juster, F Thomas, 1996. "New Evidence on Altruism: A Study of TIAA-CREF Retirees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 893-908, September.
  18. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2008. "Optimum Taxation of Inheritances," CESifo Working Paper Series 2319, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. 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.
  20. Seade, Jesus, 1982. "On the Sign of the Optimum Marginal Income Tax," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 637-43, October.
  21. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521130615 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. 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.
  23. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Ivan Werning, 2007. "New Dynamic Public Finance: A User's Guide," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2006, Volume 21, pages 317-388 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
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