International Tax and Public Finance

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 225–256 | Cite as

Inter vivos transfers of ownership in family firms

  • James R. HinesJr.Email author
  • Niklas Potrafke
  • Marina Riem
  • Christoph Schinke


This paper examines the determinants of inter vivos (lifetime) transfers of ownership in German family firms between 2000 and 2013. Survey evidence indicates that owners of firms with strong current business conditions transfer ownership at higher rates than others. When a firm’s self-described business condition improves from “normal” to “good,” the relative likelihood of an inter vivos transfer increases by 46 percent. Inter vivos transfer rates also rose following a 2009 reform that reduced transfer taxes. These patterns suggest that transfer taxes significantly influence rates and timing of inter vivos ownership transfers.


Inter vivos transfers Transfer taxes Family firms 

JEL Classification

H24 D31 D22 



We are grateful to the Editor and two anonymous referees for many helpful comments and suggestions that are incorporated in the paper. We would also like to thank Sebastian Escobar, Ben Lockwood, Liya Palagashvili, Dirk Schindler, Thomas Stratmann, Agnes Strauss, the participants of German Economic Association (Augsburg 2016), the CESifo Public Sector Economics conference (Munich 2016), European Association of Law and Economics (Vienna 2015), Congress of the International Institute of Public Finance (Dublin 2015) and Public Choice Society Meetings (San Antonio 2015), and seminars at the ifo Institute, Paris School of Economics, University of Michigan, Swiss Economic Institute at the ETH Zurich, Centre for Business Taxation at Oxford University, University of Bayreuth, and University of Munich for their helpful comments. We are grateful to the Foundation of Family Businesses, on whose behalf we conducted a survey on inheritances, inter vivos transfers, and transfer taxation (the Inheritance and Gift Tax Survey–IGTS) among owners of family firms in February and March 2014.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. HinesJr.
    • 1
    Email author
  • Niklas Potrafke
    • 2
  • Marina Riem
    • 2
  • Christoph Schinke
    • 2
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Ifo InstituteMunichGermany

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