Full text: Repair the roof when the sun is shining (171)

Unemployment and inequality 
standards need to be imposed; free-riding by jurisdictions with special status, as 
in the Isle of Man, must be stopped. Similarly, with regard to overseas tax 
havens a coordinated attempt within the OECD and other frameworks needs to 
be made to monitor and restrict their parasitic activities. 
Wealth and inheritance taxation 
Some countries (including Sweden and Austria) have abandoned attempts to 
tax holdings of wealth or the passing on of wealth from one generation to 
another. As elsewhere, tax competition but also administrative difficulties 
(relating for instance to the valuation of capital assets) have been cited as 
reasons to reduce wealth and inheritance tax rates or abolish them altogether; 
in the case of inheritance taxes the supposed endangering of companies 
bequeathed to the next generation of owners has also been flagged by the 
opponents of the inheritance tax. 
Yet the work of Piketty, Zucman and others (see for example, Piketty and 
Zucman, 2014) has underlined the increasing importance of wealth ownership 
in explaining rising inequalities in a context when wealth accumulation is 
substantial (war thankfully being a distant memory in most of Europe), wealth is 
substantially more unevenly distributed than income, and the rate of return on 
capital is high relative to the growth rate of the economy and thus incomes 
(Piketty, 2014). Rapidly rising prices of, in particular, housing in many areas has 
huge and arbitrary (inter-generational) distributional consequences. In fact 
inheritance tax is barely affected by issues of international tax competitions. 
Appropriate tax exemption thresholds reduce administrative costs and can 
reduce popular concern about "losing" wealth built up in a family. 
For all these reasons, ways can and should be found to impose a reasonable 
annual tax on wealth holdings and a much more substantial tax rate on inher­
itances-to be seen not as a 'death tax' but one on unearned income-above 
suitable thresholds. Appropriate ways to avoid threatening bankruptcy on 
company succession are available (staged payment, transfer of equity shares to 
public authorities), although this is one area where financial markets ought to 
be able to devise appropriate solutions. 
b) Strengthen middle-income households
To foster good and equal opportunities for the majority of people policies have 
to lift the middle class and promote a high level of social security and mobility 
to (and from) the upper income deciles. There is no single way of doing this. 
But central efforts include actions to counter the erosion of collective

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