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Accidental bequests: a curse for the rich and a boon for the poor

  • Cremer, Helmuth
  • Gahvari, Firouz
  • Pestieau, Pierre

When accidental bequests signal otherwise unobservable individual characteristics such as productivity and longevity, the tax administration should partition the population into two groups: One consisting of people who do not receive an inheritance and the other of those who do. The first tagged group gets a second-best tax à la Mirrlees; the second group a first-best tax schedule. The solution implies that receiving an inheritance makes high-ability types worse off and low-ability types better off. High-ability individuals will necessarily face a bequest tax of more than 100%, while low-ability types face a bequest tax that can be smaller as well as larger than 100%. With a Rawlsian social welfare function, the low-ability types too face a more than 100% tax on bequests.

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Paper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 09-119.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:21970
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  1. Antoine Bommier, 2006. "Uncertain Lifetime And Intertemporal Choice: Risk Aversion As A Rationale For Time Discounting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1223-1246, November.
  2. Cremer, Helmuth & Pestieau, Pierre & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2003. "Capital income taxation when inherited wealth is not observable," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(11), pages 2475-2490, October.
  3. BOADWAY, Robin & PESTIEAU, Pierre, . "Tagging and redistributive taxation," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1932, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2003. "The Trick Is to Live: Is the Estate Tax Social Security for the Rich?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1318-1341, December.
  5. Blumkin, Tomer & Sadka, Efraim, 2004. "Estate taxation with intended and accidental bequests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 1-21, January.
  6. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
  7. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  8. 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.
  9. Helmuth Cremer & Firouz Gahvari & Jean-Marie Lozachmeur, 2010. "Tagging and Income Taxation: Theory and an Application," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 31-50, February.
  10. MICHEL, Philippe & PESTIEAU, Pierre, 2002. "Wealth transfer taxation with both accidental and planned bequests," CORE Discussion Papers 2002059, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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