Document Type



TAX NOTES, February 2, 2009


The upcoming one-year repeal of the federal estate tax creates an opportunity to reconsider the taxation of wealth transfers. This paper argues that federal wealth transfer taxes should be retained and potentially expanded. The estate tax contributes importantly to the progressivity of the tax system as a whole by partially offsetting the tax advantages accorded to inherited income among high-income households. It also appears to be a relatively efficient source of revenue. Nevertheless, the estate tax system could be improved by adopting a package of simplification measures or, more fundamentally, by replacing it with an inheritance tax.

Date of Authorship for this Version

February 2009