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Economics of estate taxation: a brief review of theory and evidence

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  • Wojciech Kopczuk

Abstract

This paper provides a non-technical overview of the economic arguments related to the desirability of transfer taxation and a summary of empirical evidence surrounding these issues. Understanding optimal transfer taxation throughout the distribution requires understanding the nature of a bequest motive, a topic on which there is little consensus. However, I argue that progress still can be made on the question of desirability and optimal level of estate taxation at the top of the distribution, because interpersonal externalities implied by the presence of bequest motive are irrelevant from the welfare point of view when the focus is on the wealthy. I also examine the role of negative externalities from wealth concentration in providing justification for considering this type of taxation.

Suggested Citation

  • Wojciech Kopczuk, 2010. "Economics of estate taxation: a brief review of theory and evidence," NBER Working Papers 15741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15741
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    1. La riqueza debería tributar más
      by Santiago Lago Peñas in Res Publica on 2012-08-21 21:08:03

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    Cited by:

    1. Brülhart, Marius & Parchet, Raphaël, 2014. "Alleged tax competition: The mysterious death of bequest taxes in Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 63-78.
    2. Elinder Mikael & Erixson Oscar & Ohlsson Henry, 2012. "The Impact of Inheritances on Heirs' Labor and Capital Income," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-37, December.
    3. Nicola Pavoni & Hakki Yazici, 2017. "Intergenerational Disagreement and Optimal Taxation of Parental Transfers," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 1264-1305.
    4. 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.
    5. Katrine Jakobsen & Kristian Jakobsen & Henrik Kleven & Gabriel Zucman, 2020. "Wealth Taxation and Wealth Accumulation: Theory and Evidence From Denmark," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 135(1), pages 329-388.
    6. Marius Brülhart & Jonathan Gruber & Matthias Krapf & Kurt Schmidheiny, 2016. "Taxing Wealth: Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 5966, CESifo.
    7. Bellettini, Giorgio & Taddei, Filippo & Zanella, Giulio, 2017. "Intergenerational altruism and house prices: Evidence from bequest tax reforms in Italy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 1-12.
    8. Jean-Baptiste Michau & Yoshiyasu Ono & Matthias Schlegl, 2018. "Wealth Preference and Rational Bubbles," ISER Discussion Paper 1035, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    9. José María Durán-Cabré & Alejandro Esteller-Moré & Mariona Mas-Montserrat, 2019. "Behavioural responses to the (re)introduction of wealth taxes. Evidence from Spain," Working Papers 2019/04, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    10. Marius Brülhart & Raphaël Parchet, 2010. "Alleged Tax Competition: The Mysterious Death of InheritanceTaxes in Switzerland," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 10.04, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
    11. James R. Hines & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem & Christoph Schinke, 2019. "Inter vivos transfers of ownership in family firms," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(2), pages 225-256, April.
    12. Michau, Jean-Baptiste, 2018. "Secular stagnation: Theory and remedies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 552-618.
    13. Johann K. Brunner, 2012. "The Bequest Tax as Long-Term Care Insurance," CESifo Working Paper Series 3901, CESifo.
    14. Louis Kaplow, 2011. "An Optimal Tax System," NBER Working Papers 17214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. De Nardi, Mariacristina & Yang, Fang, 2016. "Wealth inequality, family background, and estate taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 130-145.
    16. Jappelli, T. & Padula, M. & Pica, G., 2011. "GINI DP 21: Transfer Taxes and Inequality," GINI Discussion Papers 21, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    17. Brunner Johann K., 2014. "Die Erbschaftsteuer – Bestandteil eines optimalen Steuersystems?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 199-218, October.
    18. Glogowsky, Ulrich, 2016. "Behavioral Responses to Wealth Transfer Taxation: Bunching Evidence from Germany," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145922, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    19. Michel Strawczynski, 2014. "The optimal inheritance tax in the presence of investment in education," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(4), pages 768-795, August.
    20. Pierre Pestieau & Emmanuel Thibault, 2012. "Love thy children or money," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 50(1), pages 31-57, May.
    21. Alexander Krenek & Margit Schratzenstaller, 2018. "A European Net Wealth Tax," WIFO Working Papers 561, WIFO.
    22. Christoph Schinke, 2012. "Inheritance in Germany 1911 to 2009: A Mortality Multiplier Approach," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 462, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    23. Presbitero, Andrea F. & Sacchi, Agnese & Zazzaro, Alberto, 2014. "Property tax and fiscal discipline in OECD countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(3), pages 428-433.
    24. Maya Yaneva, 2018. "Employee Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement vs. Employee NPS," European Journal of Economics and Business Studies Articles, European Center for Science Education and Research, vol. 4, EJES Janu.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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