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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 3 (May 2013)

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The Estate Tax and Inter Vivos Transfers over Time

Article Citation

McGarry, Kathleen. 2013. "The Estate Tax and Inter Vivos Transfers over Time." American Economic Review, 103(3): 478-83.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.478

Abstract

The strong dislike evidenced by the American public towards the estate tax suggests that the wealthy wish to transfer resources to their heirs tax-free and would thus exploit mechanisms allowing them to reduce the tax burden whenever possible. However, I find strong evidence that the wealthy fail to utilize what is perhaps the simplest method of tax avoidance--that of making transfers to eventual heirs up to the annual exclusion. Instead they transfer far less than the amount permitted by the tax code, whether measured in cross-section or over time. In failing to give more, they forgo significant tax savings.

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McGarry, Kathleen (UCLA)

JEL Classifications

H24: Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies; includes inheritance and gift taxes
H71: State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
K34: Tax Law


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