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The Abolition of Wealth Transfer Taxes: Lessons from Canada, Australia and New Zealand

(2005) 3 Pittsburgh Tax Review 72

50 Pages Posted: 6 May 2005 Last revised: 26 Oct 2010

David G. Duff

University of British Columbia Faculty of Law; Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia

Abstract

When the United States acted to phase-out its estate tax by 2010, it joined a small but growing group of countries which have also repealed their wealth transfer taxes. In Canada, federal gift and estate taxes were repealed in 1972 and provincial wealth transfer taxes were abolished in the 1970s and 1980s. In Australia, State and Commonwealth wealth transfer taxes were repealed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. New Zealand followed suit in the 1990s, reducing estate tax rates to zero in 1992 and repealing the tax in 1999. This paper reviews the abolition of wealth transfer taxes in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, relying on public choice theories of politically efficient revenue structures to help explain the repeal of these taxes in each country. Part II outlines the essential elements of public choice theory and its implications for tax policy. Part III surveys the history of wealth transfer taxes in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, examining in detail the events leading up to the repeal of these taxes, and illustrating the relevance of public choice theory to their abolition in each country. Part IV offers brief conclusions on the significance of this experience for the future of wealth transfer taxation in these and other countries.

Suggested Citation

Duff, David G., The Abolition of Wealth Transfer Taxes: Lessons from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (2005) 3 Pittsburgh Tax Review 72. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=719744 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.719744

David G. Duff (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia Faculty of Law ( email )

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Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada
1-604-827-3586 (Phone)
604-833-8108 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.allard.ubc.ca/faculty-staff/david-g-duff

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