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Is there some summary article on using variation in US bequest taxation as natural experiments? Has there been variation over time or over different states? Is there perhaps a paper that already has used this?

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Australia

In 1979, Australia abolished federal inheritance taxes. Using daily deaths data, we show that approximately 50 deaths were shifted from the week before the abolition to the week after. This amounts to over half of those who would have been eligible to pay the tax. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that our results are driven by misreporting, our results imply that over the very short run, the death rate may be highly elastic with respect to the inheritance tax rate.

Did the Death of Australian Inheritance Taxes Affect Deaths?

Sweden

Does taxation affect the timing of death? This is an interesting example of how behavior might be affected by economic incentives. We study how two changes in Swedish inheritance taxation 2004–2005 have affected daily all-cause mortality. Our main result is that mortality decreased by 17% the day before the expected tax repeals began.

Living to save taxes

USA

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.

Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate-Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity

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