Purpose – What are the reasons for writing this paper? The purpose of this paper is to make the case for liberty, and free enterprise, against the criticisms of this system. Specifically, the present essay is an attempt to criticize the case for inheritance taxation. This is made by many, but the author focuses on James Buchanan's contribution to this support for socialism. The author does so because James Buchanan is widely known as a champion of capitalism and free markets, and he is nothing of the sort, at least in this one case. Design/methodology/approach – The approach used in this paper is to quote widely from the adherents of inheritance taxes, and then to show the flaws in the cases they offer in support of this system. Findings – The finding is that none of the arguments offered on behalf of inheritance taxation have been shown to be valid. There are flaws in all of them. This, of course, does not imply no such arguments can be shown to be successful; only that the ones herein cited do not justify this market interference. Social implications – Why do entrepreneurs engage in entrepreneurship? For a whole host of reasons, surely; these might in the extreme be as different as there are different entrepreneurs. But one motivation, certainly an important one, likely to be felt by most entrepreneurs, is to leave a bequest upon demise, so that one's heirs and loved ones may share in the fruits of one's entrepreneurial activities. Thus, taxes on inheritances, let alone those approaching the 100 percent level, must be anathema to at least most if not all entrepreneurial activities. The present paper makes the case against such attacks on wealth, bequests, inheritances. Originality/value – To the best of the author's knowledge, although there are of course defenses of bequests, and critiques of Buchanan on other matters, there are no criticisms of this Nobel prize winning economist on this particular issue.
Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 5, 2012
Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Inheritance; Incentives; Entrepreneurialism; Inheritance tax
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