Essays on inheritance, small businesses and energy consumption

Abstract: Essay 1: People’s planning to evade the inheritance tax curtails its merits. However, the extent of planning remains a matter of argument. According to popular belief, it is widespread, but few estimates have been presented. This study estimates the extent of estate size under-reporting, a form of inheritance tax planning, using the repeal of the Swedish tax on spousal bequests, in 2004, and a regression discontinuity design. The results show that, on average, estate sizes were 17 percent lower, and the share of estates that completely escaped tax payments was 26 percent larger due to under-reporting. As a consequence, government revenues from the tax were only half of what they would have been without under-reporting. Moreover, preferences and means for under-reporting were not only prevalent among the wealthy, but also among those receiving relatively small inheritances. The study contributes to a growing literature on tax avoidance and evasion by estimating the extent of estate size under-reporting, its effect on government revenues and by showing that it was widespread in the population.