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Alleged Tax Competition: The Mysterious Death of InheritanceTaxes in Switzerland

  • Marius Brülhart
  • Raphaël Parchet

Interjurisdictional competition over mobile tax bases is an easily understood mechanism, but actual tax-base elasticities are difficult to estimate. Political pressure for reducing tax rates could therefore be based on erroneous estimates of the mobility of tax bases. We show that tax competition provided the overwhelmingly dominant argument in the policy debates leading to a succession of reforms of bequest taxation by Swiss cantons. Yet, we find only very weak statistical evidence of a relationship between tax burdens on bequests and the concerned tax base of wealthy elderly individuals. Moreover, inheritance tax revenues are found to increase in inheritance tax rates even in the long run, and actual tax rates lie well below the revenue-maximising levels throughout. The alleged pressures of tax competition did not seem in reality to exist.

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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 10.04.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Public Economics, (111), March 2014, pp. 63-78
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:10.04
Contact details of provider: Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.20
Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/series
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