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Estate and Capital Gains Taxation: Efficiency and Political Economy Considerations


  • Saku Aura

    (University of Missouri-Columbia)


In this paper a simple dynastic overlapping-generations model with homogeneous agents is used to analyze the optimal use of capital income tax, labor income tax and estate tax. The results of this analysis add to the conventional wisdom about capital income taxation: while it is true that in the long run the estate tax rate should be set to zero, it is also true that other capital income taxation is a usable policy tool even in the steady state. The other contribution of the paper is the building of a simple dynamic political economy model where the structure of capital taxes is determined. In a median-voter framework with no policy commitment, estate taxation is used too heavily as a capital-tax-revenue-collecting tool relative to the second-best optimum for the social planner.

Suggested Citation

  • Saku Aura, 2004. "Estate and Capital Gains Taxation: Efficiency and Political Economy Considerations," Public Economics 0404011, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0404011
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 30

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Atkinson, A B & Sandmo, A, 1980. "Welfare Implications of the Taxation of Savings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(359), pages 529-549, September.
    3. Saku Aura & Peter Diamond & John Geanakoplos, 2002. "Savings and Portfolio Choice in a Two-Period Two-Asset Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1185-1191, September.
    4. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
    5. Andres Erosa & Martin Gervais, 2001. "Optimal taxation in infinitely-lived agent and overlapping generations models : a review," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 23-44.
    6. Deaton, Angus, 1986. "Demand analysis," Handbook of Econometrics,in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1767-1839 Elsevier.
    7. Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "Capital Taxation and Accumulation in a Life Cycle Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 533-544, September.
    8. Diamond, P. A., 1975. "A many-person Ramsey tax rule," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-342, November.
    9. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    10. Tomer Blumkin & Efraim Sadka, 2001. "Estate Taxation," CESifo Working Paper Series 558, CESifo Group Munich.
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    Cited by:

    1. Graziella Bertocchi, 2011. "The Vanishing Bequest Tax: The Comparative Evolution Of Bequest Taxation In Historical Perspective," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 107-131, March.
    2. Ivo Bischoff & Nataliya Kusa, 2015. "Policy preferences for inheritance taxation," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201531, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    3. Ivo Bischoff & Nataliya Kusa, 2016. "Should wealth transfers be taxed? Citizens’ view on a fundamental question," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201636, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

    More about this item


    Capital Income Taxation; Optimal Taxation; Political Economy;

    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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