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Cappelen in new article: inheritance taxation has low legitimacy within the Norwegian population

Post-doctor Cornelius Cappelen finds in a new article in Tidsskrift for velferdsforskning that inheritance taxation has low legitimacy within the Norwegian population. Nonetheless, he and co-author Jørgen Pedersen conclude, an increase of the tax is principally defensible in light of egalitarian ideals.

Taxation with low legitimacy

Post-doctor Cornelius Cappelen discusses the legitimacy of the Norwegian inheritance taxation in a new article in Tidsskrift for velferdsforskning (vol. 7; is. 2). The article is co-written by Jørgen Pedersen (University of Bergen).

The Norwegian government recently abolished inheritance taxation. In a recent survey Cappelen and Pedersen found that inheritance taxation has low legitimacy within the Norwegian population. People see it as double taxation, and regard it as problematic because it makes it difficult for families to maintain ownership of items with sentimental value. People also oppose inheritance taxation because it makes it more difficult to keep family businesses. 

The authors assess the question of (what is) just inheritance taxation in the context of a two-fold set of distributive ideals: the ideal of equality and the ideal of responsibility. The former holds that inequality stemming from factors beyond an individual’s control should be mitigated, while the latter makes the case for performance-based inequalities that arise as a result of individual effort.

 

- Inheritance taxation increase principally defensible

Cappelen and Pedersen argue that an inheritance taxation increase is consistent with the equality ideal, while the ideal of responsibility suggests an inheritance taxation reduction. They conclude that inheritance taxation increase is principally justifiable, but concede that the taxation’s low legitimacy within the population is problematic.