Working Paper No. 936

Swedish Inheritance and Gift Taxation (1885–2004)

Published: November 7, 2012, revised November 2013, October 2014 and August 2015Pages: 55Keywords: Gift tax; Inheritance tax; Estate tax; Tax avoidance; Excess burden; Entrepreneurship; Ownership transfers of family firmsJEL-codes: H20; K34; D31
Published version

Swedish Inheritance and Gift Taxation (1885–2004) Gunnar Du Rietz, Magnus Henrekson and Daniel Waldenström

This paper studies the evolution of the modern Swedish inheritance taxation from its introduction in 1885 to its abolishment in 2004. A thorough description is offered of the basic principles of the tax, including underlying ideas and ambitions, tax schedules, and rules concerning valuation of assets, liability matters and deduction opportunities. Using these rules, we calculate inheritance tax rates for the whole period for a number of differently endowed family firms and individuals. The overall trend in inheritance tax burden exhibits an inverse-U shape for all firms and individuals.

Up until the end of World War I, inheritance tax rates were very low (never above four percent). Tax rates began to increase in the interwar period with tax hikes in 1918, 1920 and 1934. After World War II tax rates increased rapidly for both inherited firms and individual fortunes. Effective tax rates peaked in the mid-1970s. Valuation reliefs were introduced in the 1970s, which sharply reduced tax rates for inherited family businesses. Tax rates for deceased individuals having non-corporate wealth were first cut in 1987 and then significantly reduced in 1991–1992. Finally, inheritance and gift tax revenues were relatively small, typically 0.1 to 0.2 percent of GDP.


Magnus Henrekson


Ph: +46 (0)8 665 4502

Daniel Waldenström


Ph: +33-754844839
Mob: +46 70 4916082

Sick of Inequality?

An Introduction to the Relationship between Inequality and Health

Sick of Inequality.jpg

In this book Andreas Bergh, Therese Nilsson, IFN and Lund University, and Daniel Waldenström, IFN and Paris School of Economics, France, review the latest research on the relationship between inequality and health. What does inequality mean for our health? Does increasing income inequality affect outcomes such as obesity, life expectancy and subjective well-being?


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 |