Economics serving society

“Chronique d’un impôt sur l’héritage en perdition”, André Masson

In his latest book, André Masson takes stock of inheritance tax.

Chronique d’un impôt sur l’héritage en perdition. Pourquoi et comment le sauver.

Find the page dedicated to the book on the PUF website.

Extract from the back cover:


Inheritance tax represents a little more than one hundredth of tax revenues in France. This is not much, but it is more than almost anywhere else: many European countries have abolished them since the year 2000. Moreover, they are increasingly unpopular, with almost nine out of ten French people in all social strata now in favour of a tax cut. The 2022 elections were a litmus test for taxes, offering a wide range of proposals, from the abolition of direct line taxes for the hard right to the capping of inheritance for the radical left. The diagnosis is clear: the scenario of a slow death of the “death tax” is the most likely. In the past, however, the tax was flourishing and much better tolerated.
This book shows that these developments are the result of a major ideological shift after 1980, fuelled by the return of wealth and its diffusion among the middle classes, as well as by the retreat to the family in increasingly individualistic and uncertain times. It is no longer enough to conceive of inheritance tax as a tax of social justice, reducing inequality of opportunity. In order to save them, we must give them a complementary vocation: they could constitute a tax incentive mechanism that would allow the large-scale financing, through the abundant savings of senior citizens, of the collective, productive, ecological and social investments in the future that our societies need so much today.

The author

André Masson is director of research at the CNRS and director of studies at the EHESS. He is an economist, an engineer from the École polytechnique and a member of the Paris School of Economics. He is the author of “Nos sociétés du vieillissement entre guerre et paix. Plaidoyer pour une solidarité de combat” by editions L’autreface, 2020.

His research themes are related to the microeconomics of inter-temporal and intergenerational household trade-offs:
- savings and wealth, risk behaviour (portfolio choice, multi-risk management), time behaviour (preference for the present, temporal incoherence), wealth inequalities ;
- rationality of the saver over his life cycle;
- wealth transmission (altruism and indirect reciprocity) and tax policy;
- pensions and social protection, interaction between public and private solidarity, in particular in their intergenerational dimension; types of welfare state.