Notes and Manuals > IMF How To Notes

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Sebastian Beer, Ms. Dora Benedek, Brian Erard, and Jan Loeprick
Governments use tax expenditures (TEs) to provide financial support or benefits to taxpayers. The budgetary impact of TEs can be similar to that of direct outlays: after the support is provided, less money is available to fund other government priorities. Systematic evaluations are needed to guide informed decision-mak¬ing and to avoid a situation where the narrative on the benefits of TEs is primarily driven by profiting stakeholders. By TE “evaluation,” this note refers to a process that seeks to systematically inform policymak¬ers on the desirability of introducing or maintaining specific tax benefits by gathering and analyzing avail¬able quantitative and qualitative information on their effects. Evaluation processes can be tailored to different levels of data availability and analytical capacity. An evaluation should focus on the policy objective of a TE and whether it effectively and efficiently contrib¬utes to that policy objective. Although important lessons can be learned from coun¬try practices in implementing increasingly ambitious evaluation processes, there is no single best-practice approach to replicate.
Laura Doherty and Amanda Sayegh

Spending reviews refer to the process of conducting in-depth assessments of existing public expenditure in order to identify opportunities to reduce or redirect spending from low-priority, inefficient, or ineffective spending. They offer a systemic approach to ensuring that spending is aligned with the government’s policy priorities, is effective in achieving its intended objectives and is deployed efficiently. This How to Note outlines the various objectives of spending reviews and provides guidance on designing a spending review process, including the organizational architecture and roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders. It also discusses the various stages of con¬ducting spending reviews and mechanisms for integrat¬ing their outcomes into the budget process. This note draws on lessons and experiences from countries that have established spending reviews, while recognizing that this is an emerging area for further reform.

Laura Doherty and Amanda Sayegh
Spending reviews refer to the process of conducting in-depth assessments of existing public expenditure in order to identify opportunities to reduce or redirect spending from low-priority, inefficient, or ineffective spending. They offer a systemic approach to ensuring that spending is aligned with the government’s policy priorities, is effective in achieving its intended objectives and is deployed efficiently. This How to Note outlines the various objectives of spending reviews and provides guidance on designing a spending review process, including the organizational architecture and roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders. It also discusses the various stages of con¬ducting spending reviews and mechanisms for integrat¬ing their outcomes into the budget process. This note draws on lessons and experiences from countries that have established spending reviews, while recognizing that this is an emerging area for further reform.
Fazeer Sheik Rahim, Mr. Claude P Wendling, and Ms. Eliko Pedastsaar

Expenditure baseline projections (hereafter, “base¬lines”) are a key analytical concept in budget preparation that refers to estimates of future expenditure on the assumption that current policies remain unchanged. They serve as reference points against which other data, such as proposed or approved budgets, or expenditure ceilings, can be compared. In many countries they are a basic tool for starting the preparation of the budget. They represent neither future spending allocations nor total expected outturn as they do not incorporate estimates of the cost of new policies and the expected impact of saving measures. Other features of baselines are that they are generally produced over a multiyear period, they can be calcu¬lated at any level or form of the budget classification (that is, ministries, economic classification, specific policies, functions or programs), and can be summed up to higher levels (such as the whole budget). Hence, they can be useful at both a micro and an aggregate level. This note aims to clarify and establish a framework that covers baselines’ various purposes and uses. It first discusses the definition and objectives of baselines and the methodology used for producing them before outlining how they should be prepared. It concludes with a discussion of the key success factors for making the most effective use of baselines.

Fazeer Sheik Rahim, Mr. Claude P Wendling, and Ms. Eliko Pedastsaar
Expenditure baseline projections (hereafter, “base¬lines”) are a key analytical concept in budget preparation that refers to estimates of future expenditure on the assumption that current policies remain unchanged. They serve as reference points against which other data, such as proposed or approved budgets, or expenditure ceilings, can be compared. In many countries they are a basic tool for starting the preparation of the budget. They represent neither future spending allocations nor total expected outturn as they do not incorporate estimates of the cost of new policies and the expected impact of saving measures. Other features of baselines are that they are generally produced over a multiyear period, they can be calcu¬lated at any level or form of the budget classification (that is, ministries, economic classification, specific policies, functions or programs), and can be summed up to higher levels (such as the whole budget). Hence, they can be useful at both a micro and an aggregate level. This note aims to clarify and establish a framework that covers baselines’ various purposes and uses. It first discusses the definition and objectives of baselines and the methodology used for producing them before outlining how they should be prepared. It concludes with a discussion of the key success factors for making the most effective use of baselines.