Although estate and gift taxes raise a small fraction of federal revenues, they have become sources of increasing political controversy. This book is designed to inform the current policy debate and build a conceptual basis for future scholarship. The book contains eleven original studies of estate and gift taxes, along with discussants' comments. The essays provide background and historical information; analyze the optimal taxation of estates and gifts; examine the effects of the tax on charitable contributions, saving behavior, the distribution and level of wealth, tax avoidance and tax evasion; and explore the effects of alternatives to estate taxation.
William G. Gale is a vice president and director of the Brookings Institution's Economic Studies program, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy. He is also founding codirector of the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. James R. Hines Jr. is professor of business economics and research director, Office of Tax Policy Research, University of Michigan. Joel Slemrod is Paul W. McCracken collegiate professor of business economics and public policy, professor of economics, and director, Office of Tax Policy Research, University of Michigan.