No Gift and Inheritance Tax
Sweden abandoned the gift and inheritance tax in late 2004. One reason was that the government wished to enhance transfer of ownership of shares in family-owned businesses from the older to the younger generation and within the family. Anticipated outcomes of amendments in tax law are, however, not always fulfilled. This paper reports on a survey study of 143 Swedish small to medium-sized family businesses. The study is focused on companies and families that have carried out an intergenerational succession (some partly) during the lifetime of the older generation (127). Only in a few instances was the transfer of shares made in another way, i.e. six intestate inheritances and ten sales to an external person. According to the survey results abandoning the gift and inheritance tax is no quick .x. A succession within the family has still to be prepared and planned. Further, a transfer of the shares, for example to a daughter during the life time of the incumbent cannot always be made through a gift. The older generation may still require financial compensation in order to uphold their standard of living or compensate siblings who do not receive shares. A sale to a child at less than market value is still partly capital gains taxed. Even though having no gift and inheritance tax can be beneficial it nonetheless cannot produce miracles.
We conclude that more efforts should be made concerning taxation of intergenerational transfer of family-owned businesses, in order to smooth the process, which hopefully will also be recognized by the EU Commission in its recommendations.
Sund, L-G., & Bjuggren, P-O. (2013). No Gift and Inheritance Tax: No Problems Left for Succession of Family-Owned Businesses? European Business Law Review, 24(1), 149-159.