The reform of the inheritance and gift tax has recently become an issue of interest in political debates in Germany. This interest is in part due to an upcoming decision by the supreme court on whether the assessment of estates for inheritance and gift tax reasons is in line with constitutional law. Regarding these tax reform considerations, detailed information about the inheritance and gift tax systems of other countries, especially concerning the taxation of business property, is important. Although most developed countries levy an inheritance and gift tax on transfers of property, there are differences between the specific provisions in each country which have to be analysed. Against this background the aim of this research project is to analyse and to compare the inheritance and gift tax systems of different countries. Of special interest are assessment methods, tax rates, credits, and exemptions. Subject to this analysis are the inheritance tax systems of Germany, selected countries of the European Union, Switzerland, the United States of America, and Japan. First, the relevant tax provisions are examined and compared. Second, a methodical concept for calculating the effective tax burden of a representative transfer of estate on death is developed. With reference to calculating the effective tax burden the legal form of companies, the composition and value of the transferred estate as well as the relations between the disponer and the beneficiaries are varied. Finally, the resulting differences between the tax burdens are examined. The results of this research project are expected to give important reference points for potential future reforms of the inheritance and gift tax in Germany.
01.07.2003 - 29.02.2004
Prof. Dr. Thiess Büttner
Prof. Dr. Wolfram Scheffler (Coordinator)
Prof. Dr. Christoph Spengel (Coordinator)
Dr. Margit Kraus