Inheritance Tax and Foreign Spouses in Turkey: A Comparative Study


INTERTAX, vol.48, no.11, pp.1020-1029, 2020 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 48 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Name: INTERTAX
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, EBSCO Legal Source, Public Affairs Index, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.1020-1029
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


In recent years, many countries have either abolished inheritance and estate taxes or exempted spouses from these taxes. However, Turkey still levies inheritance tax on foreign spouses and heirs despite an increase in marriages with foreigners. This study examines thirty-two cases of inheritance in Turkey and compares Turkish inheritance tax policies with another eleven European policies using data from OECD statistics and the 2018 Worldwide Estate and Inheritance Tax Guide. It also examines Turkish laws and court cases and identifies several legal issues that foreign widows encounter when inheriting assets from Turkish spouses. Finally, it discusses the potential implications for Turkey's current tax policies. The results demonstrate that Turkish inheritance tax law is problematic for foreign spouses. Turkey's lack of tax agreements with other countries increases the problems associated with double taxation. The results also identified the lack of provisions for same-sex spouses and couples as well as couples who live together but are not married, and Turkey trails behind many other European countries in this regard. In conclusion, Turkey should, like many other countries, abolish the spousal inheritance tax, or it should conclude agreements with other countries to avoid double taxation of foreign widows and heirs living in Turkey.