Taxing Inherited Wealth: A Philosophical Argument
Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 4, p. 3, 1993
60 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2008
This paper presents a preliminary argument for the introduction and design of a lifetime accessions tax: a progressive tax on inherited wealth levied on the cumulative lifetime gifts and inheritances of the recipient.' As such, it contains an elaboration of the rationale for the tax and a presentation of distributive principles to govern its design. However, it does not include a detailed exposition of the actual design of the tax, nor an analysis of its feasibility in a given context. As a result, it provides an ethical blueprint for the design of an ideal inheritance tax without fully considering concrete questions of compliance and administration which any actual tax must ultimately address.' Nevertheless, even this exercise should serve as a useful guide to concrete tax policy. In addition, to the extent that this paper strengthens the ethical argument for taxing inherited wealth and stimulates creative thinking about the actual design of such a tax, it will have served a useful purpose.
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