Economics of Estate Taxation: A Brief Review of Theory and Evidence

24 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2010 Last revised: 7 Jul 2010

See all articles by Wojciech Kopczuk

Wojciech Kopczuk

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences - Department of Economics; Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2010

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

Kopczuk, Wojciech, Economics of Estate Taxation: A Brief Review of Theory and Evidence (February 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15741, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1556107

Wojciech Kopczuk (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

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Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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