Impact of the wealth tax (ISF) on the economic environment

Motivation: Implemented from 1988 to 2017, the wealth tax (ISF) was the only tax on the net stock of wealth in France that was both progressive and based on a broad definition of wealth, including real estate and financial assets. One of the most prominent criticisms of this tax, which partly motivated its conversion into the real estate wealth tax (IFI) in 2018, regards its allegedly harmful effects on the economic environment, via a series of mechanisms such as the tax expatriation of entrepreneurs or the undermining of family businesses under the weight of the tax burden imposed by the ISF on the family shareholders. Nevertheless, few empirical studies, whether in France or abroad, have documented the deleterious effects attributed to taxes on the net stock of wealth.

Project: The project aims at estimating the effects of the wealth tax and its transformation on the economic environment by exploiting several reforms that occurred over the period stretching from 2006 to 2018. It relies on a novel matching between corporate tax data and household tax data. This new database allows us to identify how changes in household taxation affect firms’ location, investment and employment decisions through their direct impact on business owners. The study has three main objectives.

  1. The first is descriptive in nature and consists in measuring precisely and over a long period the financing constraint of the ISF borne by wealthy firms via their reference shareholders.
  2. The second is to identify the causal effect of the wealth tax on the distribution, investment and employment decisions of wealthy firms, using the various reforms of this tax as sources of identification.
  3. Finally, the third objective is to analyze the impact of this tax on the transfer of ownership and management of firms and, more generally, on the flows of capital.

Funding: Comité d’évaluation des réformes de la fiscalité du capital (France Stratégie).

Researchers: Laurent Bach, Antoine Bozio, Arthur Guillouzouic, Clément Malgouyres.




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