School of Business & Economics Discussion Paper: Economics 2011/10
The idea of higher wealth taxes to finance the mounting public debt in the wake of the financial crises is gaining ground in several OECD countries. We evaluate the revenue and distributional effects of a one-time capital levy on personal net wealth that is currently on the German political agenda. We use survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and estimate the net wealth distribution at the very top, based on publicly available information about very rich Germans. Since net wealth is strongly concentrated, the capital levy could raise substantial revenue, even if relatively high personal allowances are granted. We also analyze the compliance and administrative costs of the capital levy.