What if Estate Taxpayers Were Viewed as Households Rather Than as Individuals?

22 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2007

See all articles by David Joulfaian

David Joulfaian

U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis (OTA); Georgetown University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2007

Abstract

Policy makers and researchers have traditionally relied on information reported on estate tax returns in their analyses of the transfers by the wealthy. Reflecting the uniqueness of the reporting requirements, information such as that on bequests and estate tax liabilities are reported on an individual basis. This paper explores the implications of evaluating the reported information on a household, rather than individual, basis. Households, and information on their wealth and transfers, are constructed by linking the estate tax returns of husbands and wives filed during 1982-2003. Preliminary evidence suggests that the burden of taxation and pattern of charitable bequests and lifetime gifts as gleaned on a household basis are quite distinct from those commonly reported using data on individuals. Indeed and when measured on a household basis, we observe greater generosity in charitable bequests and lifetime gifts, as well as a greater tax burden.

Keywords: estate tax, gifts, bequests

JEL Classification: D19, H31

Suggested Citation

Joulfaian, David, What if Estate Taxpayers Were Viewed as Households Rather Than as Individuals? (April 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=980294 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.980294

David Joulfaian (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) ( email )

1500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20220
United States

Georgetown University - Department of Economics ( email )

37th St NW & O St NW
Washington, DC 20007
United States

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