Ms. Genevieve Verdier, Brett Rayner, Ms. Priscilla S Muthoora, Charles Vellutini, Ling Zhu, Vincent de Paul Koukpaizan, Alireza Marahel, Mahmoud Harb, Imen Benmohamed, Mr. Shafik Hebous, Andrew Okello, Nathalie Reyes, Thomas Benninger, and Bernard Sanya
Domestic revenue mobilization has been a longstanding challenge for countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. Insufficient revenue has often constrained priority social and infrastructure spending, reducing countries’ ability to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, improve growth prospects, and address climate related challenges. Moreover, revenue shortfalls have often been compensated by large and sustained debt accumulation, raising vulnerabilities in some countries, and limiting fiscal space to address future shocks. The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have compounded challenges to sustainable public finances, underscoring the need for revenue mobilization efforts. The recent global crises have also exacerbated existing societal inequalities and highlighted the importance of raising revenues in an efficient and equitable manner. This paper examines the scope for additional tax revenue mobilization and discusses policies to gradually raise tax revenue while supporting resilient growth and inclusion in the Middle East and Central Asia. The paper’s main findings are that excluding hydrocarbon revenues, the region’s average tax intake lags those of other regions; the region’s fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS) face particular challenges in mobilizing tax revenue; In general, there is considerable scope to raise additional tax revenue; countries have made efforts to raise tax collection, but challenges remain; tax policy design, notably low tax rates and pervasive tax exemptions, is an important factor driving tax revenue shortfalls; weak tax compliance, reflecting both structural features and challenges in revenue administration, also plays a role; and personal income tax systems in the region vary in their progressivity—the extent to which the average tax rate increases with income—and in their ability to redistribute income. These findings provide insights for policy action to raise revenue while supporting resilient growth and inclusion. The paper’s analysis points to these priorities for the region to improve both efficiency and equity of tax systems: improving tax policy design to broaden the tax base and increase progressivity and redistributive capacity; strengthening revenue administration to improve compliance; and implementing structural reforms to incentivize tax compliance, formalization, and economic diversification.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Swift and decisive policy response to the Covid-19 pandemic has helped to mitigate the health and economic impact of the crisis. Fast vaccination rollout has also strengthened the economy’s resilience to new pandemic waves, paving the way for a speedy recovery. As the economy rebounds, a gradual exit from pandemic support measures is underway.
Just as uncertainty associated with COVID-19 pandemic was abating, Russia invaded Ukraine. Uncertainty endured, shifting from pandemic to war, affecting all countries but in different ways. Above-target inflation rates and inflation surprises have helped reducing debt-to-GDP ratios but such relief is often temporary. High uncertainty and marked divergences across countries require a tailored and agile fiscal policy response that is ready to adjust as the outlook becomes clearer. Fiscal policy will need to shift focus away from the exceptional pandemic-related measures as central banks increase interest rates to fight inflation. Emerging and developing economies that are net importers of energy and food will be hit the hardest by surging international prices. Many of these countries already experience scarring from the pandemic and have little fiscal space to tackle new spending pressures. Government should focus on those most affected by the crisis and priority areas. Ensuring greater resilience through investment in health, food, and energy security from cleaner sources has become even more urgent. Global cooperation to achieve these objectives is more important now than ever. As countries strive to promote an inclusive and green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic—and formulate responses to the immediate impacts of increased energy prices—they face shared challenges to secure tax revenues, address inequalities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. National tax policies are under pressure to deal with cross-border spillovers—one country’s action affects other countries. Chapter 2 discusses how international coordination on tax matters (i) reduces profit shifting by multinationals and tax competition between countries; (ii) improves tax enforcement by lifting the veil of secrecy to tackle tax evasion; and (iii) limits global warming. The current energy crisis reinforces the case for coordination among major emitters to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, urging countries to not allow near-term responses to detract efforts to establish credible policies for emissions reductions in the medium term.
Ernesto Crivelli, Ruud A. de Mooij, and J. E. J. De Vrijer
This paper aims to contribute to the European policy debate on corporate income tax reform in three ways. First, it takes a step back to review the performance of the CIT in Europe over the past several decades and the important role played by MNEs in European economies. Second, it analyses corporate tax spillovers in Europe with a focus on the channels and magnitudes of both profit shifting and CIT competition. Third, the paper examines the progress made in European CIT coordination and discusses reforms to strengthen the harmonization of corporate tax policies, in order to effectively reduce both tax competition and profit shifting.
The ever-increasing digitalization of businesses has accelerated the need to address the many shortcomings and unresolved issues within the international corporate income tax system. In particular, the customer or “user”—through their online activities—is now considered by many as being a critical driving force behind the value of digital services. Furthermore, the rapid growth of digital service providers over the last decade has made them an increasingly popular target for special taxes—similar to wealth and solidarity taxes—which can also help mobilize much-needed revenues in the wake of a crisis. This paper argues that a plausible conceptual case can be made to tax the value generated by users under the corporate income tax. However, a number of issues need to be tackled for user-based tax measures to become a reality, which include agreement among countries on whether user value justifies a reallocation of taxing rights, establishing the legal right to tax income derived from user value, as well as an appropriate metric for valuing user-generated data if it is ever to be used as a tax base. Furthermore, attempting to tax only certain types of business is ill-advised, especially as user data is now being exploited widely enough for it to be recognized as an input for almost all businesses. Several options present themselves for consideration—from a modified permanent establishment definition combined with taxation by formulary apportionment, to user-based royalty-type taxes—each with their own merits and misdemeanors.
Benjamin Carton, Emilio Fernández Corugedo, and Mr. Benjamin L Hunt
This paper uses a multi-region, forward-looking, DSGE model to estimate the macroeconomic impact of a tax reform that replaces a corporate income tax (CIT) with a destination-based cash-flow tax (DBCFT). Two key channels are at play. The first channel is the shift from an income tax to a cash-flow tax. This channel induces the corporate sector to invest more, boosting long-run potential output, GDP and consumption, but crowding out consumption in the short run as households save to build up the capital stock. The second channel is the shift from a taxable base that comprises domestic and foreign revenues, to one where only domestic revenues enter. This leads to an appreciation of the currency to offset the competitiveness boost afforded by the tax and maintain domestic investment-saving equilibrium. The paper demonstrates that spillover effects from the tax reform are positive in the long run as other countries’ exports benefit from additional investment in the country undertaking the reform and other countries’ domestic demand benefits from improved terms of trade. The paper also shows that there are substantial benefits when all countries undertake the reform. Finally, the paper demonstrates that in the presence of financial frictions, corporate debt declines under the tax reform as firms are no longer able to deduct interest expenses from their profits. In this case, the tax shifting results in an increase in the corporate risk premia, a near-term decline in output, and a smaller long-run increase in GDP.
Tax provisions favoring corporate debt over equity finance (“debt bias”) are widely recognized as a risk to financial stability. This paper explores whether and how thin-capitalization rules, which restrict interest deductibility beyond a certain amount, affect corporate debt ratios and mitigate financial stability risk. We find that rules targeted at related party borrowing (the majority of today’s rules) have no significant impact on debt bias—which relates to third-party borrowing. Also, these rules have no effect on broader indicators of firm financial distress. Rules applying to all debt, in contrast, turn out to be effective: the presence of such a rule reduces the debt-asset ratio in an average company by 5 percentage points; and they reduce the probability for a firm to be in financial distress by 5 percent. Debt ratios are found to be more responsive to thin capitalization rules in industries characterized by a high share of tangible assets.