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Kodjovi M. Eklou and Mamour Fall
Do discretionary spending cuts and tax increases hurt social well-being? To answer this question, we combine subjective well-being data covering over half a million of individuals across 13 European countries, with macroeconomic data on fiscal consolidations. We find that fiscal consolidations reduce individual well-being in the short run, especially when they are based on spending cuts. In addition, we show that accompanying monetary and exchange rate policies (disinflation, depreciations and the liberalization of capital flows) mitigate the well-being cost of fiscal consolidations. Finally, we investigate the well-being consequences of the two well-knowns expansionary fiscal consolidations episodes taking place in the 80s (in Denmark and Ireland). We find that even expansionary fiscal consolidations can have well-being costs. Our results may therefore shed some light on why some governments may choose to consolidate through taxes even at the cost of economic growth. Indeed, if spending cuts are to generate a large well-being loss, they can trigger an opposition and protest against a fiscal consolidation plan and hence making it politically costly.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper investigates impact of promoting labor supply through tax and benefit reform in Finland. A comprehensive reform of the tax-benefit system could support the government’s objective of increasing employment. The equity-efficiency trade-off of the proposed reform scenarios improves social welfare when using Finland-specific preferences. The Finnish tax and benefit system has served the country well, having supported high income levels alongside low inequality. The model is characterized by strong institutions, high taxes and public service provision, a highly skilled labor force and a generous social safety net. The microsimulation analysis shows that, despite strong redistribution and high-income levels, Finland could improve its tax and benefit system. Even for revenue-neutral reforms, economic gains in terms of labor supply and earnings could be substantial. The reform proposals consider Finland’s strong preferences for equity, while seeking to correct potential inconsistencies in how the tax burden is distributed.
Maura Francese and Delphine Prady
This paper discusses the definition and modelling of a universal basic income (UBI). After clarifying the debate about what a UBI is and presenting the arguments in favor and against, an analytical approach for its assessment is proposed. The adoption of a UBI as a policy tool is discussed with regard to the policy objectives (shaped by social preferences) it is designed to achieve. Key design dimensions to be considered include: coverage, generosity of the program, overall progressivity of the policy, and its financing.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper reviews the relationship between real GDP growth and domestic bank lending to the private sector in Hungary after the global financial crisis, It draws on a cross-country analysis of European countries. The recessions that followed the crisis were deeper and lasted longer than the average recession. Hungary, like some other countries, experienced a creditless recovery. Although it is difficult to disentangle the causes, this analysis concludes that (1) both credit demand and supply were hurt by the crisis; (2) key factors influencing credit developments include loan quality, deposit funding, and bank capital, as well as the macroeconomic environment; and (3) lending by Hungarian banks to the private sector finally seems to be picking up.
Angana Banerji, Mr. Valerio Crispolti, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Romain A Duval, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Davide Furceri, Mr. Takuji Komatsuzaki, and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan

DISCLAIMER: Staff Discussion Notes (SDNs) showcase policy-related analysis and research being developed by IMF staff members and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in Staff Discussion Notes are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management. DISCLAIMER: Staff Discussion Notes (SDNs) showcase policy-related analysis and research being developed by IMF staff members and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in Staff Discussion Notes are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

Angana Banerji, Mr. Valerio Crispolti, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Romain A Duval, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Davide Furceri, Mr. Takuji Komatsuzaki, and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
Product and labor market reforms are needed to lift persistently sluggish growth in advanced economies. But reforms have progressed slowly because of concerns about their distributive and short-term economic effects. Our analysis, based on new empirical and numerical analysis and country case-studies shows that most labor and product market reforms can improve public debt dynamics over the medium-term. This because reforms raise output by boosting employment and/or labor productivity. But the effect of some labor market reforms on budgetary outcomes and fiscal sustainability depends critically on business cycle conditions. Our evidence also suggests that some temporary and well-designed up-front fiscal stimulus can help enhance the economic impact of reforms. In the past, countries have used fiscal incentives in the past to facilitate reforms by alleviating transition and social costs. But strong ownership of reforms was crucial for their successful implementation.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

This report presents estimates of the tax gap for Finland for the period 2008–14. There are two main components to the RA-GAP methodology for estimating the VAT gap: 1) estimate the potential VAT collections for a given period; and 2) determine the accrued VAT collections for that period. The difference between the two values is the VAT gap. The methodology employs a top-down approach for estimating the potential VAT base, using statistical data on value-added generated in each sector and constructs the accrued VAT collections value from tax record data. One of the main purposes of this report is to estimate the compliance gap. The compliance gap is the difference between the potential VAT that could have been collected given the current policy framework and actual accrued VAT collections. Other tax gap measures can be determined using different methods for determining potential VAT, and these other measures are important in understanding all the factors which are affecting current collections. This report will provide estimates for these other gap measures as well, and compare and contrast them with the compliance gap.

International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
This report presents estimates of the tax gap for Finland for the period 2008–14. There are two main components to the RA-GAP methodology for estimating the VAT gap: 1) estimate the potential VAT collections for a given period; and 2) determine the accrued VAT collections for that period. The difference between the two values is the VAT gap. The methodology employs a top-down approach for estimating the potential VAT base, using statistical data on value-added generated in each sector and constructs the accrued VAT collections value from tax record data. One of the main purposes of this report is to estimate the compliance gap. The compliance gap is the difference between the potential VAT that could have been collected given the current policy framework and actual accrued VAT collections. Other tax gap measures can be determined using different methods for determining potential VAT, and these other measures are important in understanding all the factors which are affecting current collections. This report will provide estimates for these other gap measures as well, and compare and contrast them with the compliance gap.