Taxation of Intergenerational Transfers and Wealth
74 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012
Date Written: November 2012
In this chapter, I review empirical and theoretical literature on taxation of intergenerational transfers (estates, bequests, inheritances, inter vivos gifts) and wealth. The main message may be summarized as follows. Empirical evidence on bequest motivations and responses to estate taxation is spotty and much remains be done, but what we know points in the direction of (1) mixed motives (2) heterogeneity of preferences and (3) importance of retaining control over wealth. These patterns are important for normative analysis of taxation toward the top of the distribution. Theoretical work should further focus on understanding implications of inequality of inherited wealth: the topic that has been neglected in the past, even though it is closely related to -- more carefully studied, but arguably much less important in practice -- externalities from giving. Potential externalities from wealth accumulation and concentration are yet to be seriously addressed.
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