Wealth Transfers and Net Wealth at Death: Evidence from the Italian Inheritance Tax Records 1995–2016
In this paper we describe a novel source of data on the full record of inheritance tax files in Italy, covering up to 63% of total deceased. The work documents a substantial rise in the total value of inheritance and gifts as a share of national income, from 8.4% in 1995 to 15.1% in 2016. Consistent with the increasing role of total personal net wealth in the economy, the weight of inheritance and gifts in Italy appears relatively high by international standards. Over the same period, total wealth left at death has also become increasingly concentrated. The estates valued at least 1 million Euro were worth 14% of total estate in the mid 1990s and almost 25% in 2016. This paper also documents that revenues collected from the inheritance tax underwent a threefold decline from 0.15% to 0.05% of total tax revenue between 1995 and 2016. Data also allow a disaggregated analysis by demographic and geographic characteristics.
I acknowledge financial support from the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.