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Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Return Elasticity


Wojciech Kopczuk, Joel Slemrod

NBER Working Paper No. W8158 Issued in March 2001

This paper examines data from U.S. federal tax returns to shed light on whether the timing of death is responsive to its tax consequences. We investigate the temporal pattern of deaths around the time of changes in the estate tax system periods when living longer, or dying sooner, could significantly affect estate tax liability. We find some evidence that there is a small death elasticity, although we cannot rule out that what we have uncovered is ex post doctoring of the reported date of death. However, the fact that we find that postponement, rather than acceleration, of death is more likely to occur suggests that this phenomenon is at last partly a real (albeit timing) response to taxation.

This paper is available in PDF (171 K) format.

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W8158

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Steven Huddart
Smeal College of Business, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802-3603 USA
(814) 863-0048
huddart@psu.edu
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was last updated on Tue, Aug 21, 2018.
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