The future of personal wealth and inheritance taxation in Norway

Maciek Pekala


Many countries have recently abandoned or experienced significant reduction in tax rates and revenues from personal wealth and inheritance taxation. Today, Norway remains one of the few countries that still tax annual wealth and intergenerational wealth transfers. Both taxes however face a substantial opposition and their future remains uncertain. In this paper, a dynamic microsimulation model MOSART developed by Statistics Norway is used to project and discuss future revenues and distributional effects of the annual wealth and inheritance taxes in Norway between year 2010 and 2040. The main questions discussed are: what are the future revenue effects of these taxes and what effect will they have on the distribution of wealth. Different scenarios are analysed and compared. The model predicts that average taxable wealth will significantly increase within the simulation period, which results in substantial increases in revenues from both wealth and inheritance taxes. In order to measure distributional effect I look how the average wealth will change across different percentiles (10 equal size groups divided according to net amount of wealth owned) and I use Gini coefficient as a measure of wealth inequality. The simulation results show that wealth inequality measured by Gini coefficient is going to decline between 2010 and 2040. Both types of taxes have a significant contribution to overall reduction in wealth inequality in the long run. It is estimated that around 11% of the total decrease in Gini coefficient between 2010 and 2040 under baseline scenario is due to appliance of wealth and inheritance tax. Moreover, it appears that each year higher proportion of total reduction in Gini coefficient under baseline scenario can be attributed to wealth and inheritance taxes. Furthermore, I look what impact the removal of both taxes would have on the wealthiest individuals in Norway. In a current system of capital taxation (a dual income tax) wealth tax is thought to play an important supplementary role to ensure high progressivity on top of the income and wealth distribution. In a direct sense, it appears that removal of both taxes in the long term would mainly benefit the wealthiest individuals and since a substantial amount of their total tax comes from annual wealth taxes it would significantly reduce their tax payments. The likelihood of the projection being correct under this study is however limited to the accuracy of underlying assumptions and depends on various political decisions on national and international level.

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Published Oct. 28, 2016 3:07 PM