The legacy of the Swedish gift and inheritance tax, 1884-2004
2011 (English)In: European Review of Economic History, ISSN 1361-4916, E-ISSN 1474-0044, Vol. 15, no 3, 539-569 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The objective of this paper is to study how people change their behaviour when taxes change. I follow the revenue from the gift, inheritance and estate taxes in Sweden during more than a century. Second, I focus on a unique episode during the second half of the 1940s when gifts and gift tax revenue exploded. I have access to aggregate tax revenue data since 1884. Moreover, I have constructed a rich micro data set of all gifts reported during the period 1942–1949 in one county. A first main result is that gifts, inheritances and estates never were important sources of tax revenue. Tax revenue as shares of GDP and total government revenue reached peaks already in the 1930s. The role of these taxes has instead primarily been equity and to provide integrity for other tax bases. Second, expectations were important. Gift tax revenue during the 1940s started to increase long before a new estate tax and increased wealth taxation were decided and implemented. The increase even began before the legislative process started. Third, economic power and economic control were important. Parents gave to their children to avoid taxes, but only when the expected gain became large enough and in ways that left them with as much economic power as possible.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 15, no 3, 539-569 p.
gift tax, inheritance tax, estate tax, tax avoidance, expectations
Economics Economic History
Research subject Economic History; Economics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-132604DOI: 10.1017/S1361491611000049ISI: 000296085500006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-132604DiVA: diva2:358443