A Matter of Life and Death: Reassessing the Estate and Gift Tax
Posted: 11 Aug 2000
In this report, they provide an overview of the estate tax debate. The report lays out the main features of estate and gift taxation in the U.S., describes and critiques the main components of the cases for and against the taxation of wealth transfers, and discusses possibilities for reform. The report shows that many arguments commonly made against the estate tax are demonstrably specious. To the extent that any of them are valid, they typically suggest reform rather than abolition. On the other hand, many arguments made in favor of the tax actually support maintaining some sort of wealth transfer tax, but not necessarily the existing version.
The report is based on a longer draft, "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Taxation: An Overview," which contains all of the references and sources for the analysis reported here and which is available at http://www.brook.edu/views/papers/gale/20000728.htm. That paper in turn draws on the papers presented at the conference "Rethinking the Estate and Gift Tax," jointly sponsored by the Office of Tax Policy Research and Brookings, held at Brookings on May 4 and 5 of this year; information about the conference and papers may be obtained by accessing the Office of Tax Policy Research Web site at http://www.otpr.org.
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