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The tenuous case for an annual wealth tax

Robin Boadway () and Pierre Pestieau ()

No 2018/01, Working Papers from Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB)

Abstract: We explore the case for and against an annual wealth tax as part of the overall tax mix. Few countries now use wealth taxes, and those that do adopt narrow tax bases. Taxes on inheritances or bequest are more common, but they generate limited revenue and apply to relatively few taxpayer. In principle, annual wealth taxes are roughly equivalent to capital income taxes on the assets to which they apply, although there are some assets for which wealth taxes might be simpler to implement than capital income taxes. Annual wealth taxes are distinct in purpose from inheritance taxes which are useful adjuncts to income taxes even if capital income is exempt. We recount the persuasive arguments for taxing capital income, albeit at different rates than for other income, and for taxing inheritances regardless of whether capital income is taxed. We argue that if the desire to tax asset income and wealth transfers is appropriately addressed by capital income and inheritance taxation, the additional need for an annual wealth tax is minimal and its benefits do not outweigh its administrative costs.

Keywords: Wealth tax; capital income tax; inheritance tax (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 24 pages
Date: 2018
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-acc, nep-pbe and nep-pub
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