Date of Award

Summer 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Accountancy

First Advisor

Thomas Phillips


There is considerable support for extending the temporary repeal of the federal estate tax in 2010 into a permanent repeal. Although repealing the federal estate tax would simplify the current tax system, it may also impair the federal government's ability to prudently aid eleemosynary organizations if charitable bequests' preferential tax treatment is a budget efficient policy. Furthermore, overall charitable bequests may also decline in the absence of a federal estate tax.

Using Virginia and Louisiana probate records from the years 2000-2005, tax policy questions are examined regarding the federal estate tax and charitable bequests. Tobit regression models, adjusted for heteroscedasticity where appropriate, suggest that a federal estate tax with deductible charitable bequests is a budget efficient policy. That is, the deductibility of charitable bequests, for federal estate tax purposes, induces a greater percentage increase in charitable bequests than the corresponding forgone percentage of tax revenue. At the same time, there is evidence that repealing the federal estate tax would generate a larger percentage increase in charitable bequests than the percentage increase in decedents' wealth through federal estate tax savings. Overall, charitable bequests are predicted to decrease if the federal estate tax is repealed. Additionally, the generality of probate research is enhanced by examining multiple states that are diverse in their geographical locations and marital property laws.

The results of the present study are robust under different tax structure assumptions (i.e., date of death, date of will, and expected date of death). Moreover, the results are generally consistent for filers and non-filers of federal estate tax returns as well as the entire sample.

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