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 percent 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 percent in 1995 to 15.1 percent 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 one million Euro were worth 18.7 percent of total estate in the mid 1990s and 24.8 percent in 2016. This paper also documents that revenues collected from the inheritance tax underwent a large decline from 0.14 percent to 0.06 percent of total tax revenue between 1995 and 2016. Data also allow a disaggregated analysis by demographic and geographic characteristics.