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Ms. Li Liu, Mr. Ben Lockwood, Miguel Almunia, and Eddy H.F. Tam
Using administrative tax records for UK businesses, we document both bunching in annual turnover below the VAT registration threshold and persistent voluntary registration by almost half of the firms below the threshold. We develop a conceptual framework that can simultaneously explain these two apparently conflicting facts. The framework also predicts that higher intermediate input shares, lower product-market competition and a lower share of business to consumer (B2C) sales lead to voluntary registration. The predictions are exactly the opposite for bunching. We test the theory using linked VAT and corporation tax records from 2004-2014, finding empirical support for these predictions.
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.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper summarizes Nordea’s operations and business model; the macroeconomic and prudential implications of the move; and policy responses taken so far. The IMF staff’s assessment is that banking supervision in the euro area has improved significantly following the creation of the Single Supervisory Mechanism, which should mitigate potential risks from Nordea’s move; meanwhile, the Nordic authorities have done much, in conjunction with the European Central Bank, to ensure that potential gaps and fragmentation across national jurisdictions are avoided. The resolution framework is designed to prevent taxpayers having to bail out banks, but is new, and work on building the crisis preparedness of euro area banks is still under way. The banking union is not yet complete, details of the backstop for the Single Resolution Fund need to be finalized and a common euro area deposit insurance should be made fully operational. At the same time, Nordea is also operating in non-euro area member states—maintaining cooperation between euro area and noneuro area institutions remains important.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

Abstract

Public sector balance sheets provide the most comprehensive picture of public wealth. They bring together all the accumulated assets and liabilities that the government controls, including public corporations, natural resources, and pension liabilities. They thus account for the entirety of what the state owns and owes, offering a broader fiscal picture beyond debt and deficits. Most governments do not provide such transparency, thereby avoiding the additional scrutiny it brings. Better balance sheet management enables countries to increase revenues, reduce risks, and improve fiscal policymaking. There is some empirical evidence that financial markets are increasingly paying attention to the entire government balance sheet and that strong balance sheets enhance economic resilience. This issue of the Fiscal Monitor presents a new database that shows comprehensive estimates of public sector assets and liabilities for a broad sample of 31 countries, covering 61 percent of the global economy, and provides tools to analyze and manage public wealth. Estimates of public wealth reveal the full scale of public assets and liabilities. Assets are worth US$101 trillion or 219 percent of GDP in the sample. This includes 120 percent of GDP in public corporation assets. Also included are natural resources that average 110 percent of GDP among the large natural-resource-producing countries. Recognizing these assets does not negate the vulnerabilities associated with the standard measure of general government public debt, comprising 94 percent of GDP for these countries. This is only half of total public sector liabilities of 198 percent of GDP, which also includes 46 percent of GDP in already accrued pension liabilities. Once governments understand the size and nature of public assets, they can start managing them more effectively. Potential gains from better asset management are considerable. Revenue gains from nonfinancial public corporations and government financial assets alone could be as high as 3 percent of GDP a year, equivalent to annual corporate tax collections across advanced economies. In addition, considerable gains could be realized from government nonfinancial assets. Public assets are a significant resource, and how governments use and report on them matters, not just for financial reasons, but also in terms of improving service delivery and preventing the misuse of resources that often results from a lack of transparency.

Ezequiel Cabezon and Christian Henn
Based on a permanent income analysis, Gagnon (2018) has prominently suggested that Norway has saved too much, thereby free-riding on the rest of the world for demand. Our public sector balance sheet analysis comes to the opposite conclusion, chiefly because it also accounts for future aging costs. Unsurprisingly, we find that Norway’s current assets exceed its liabilities by some 340 percent of mainland GDP. But its nonoil fiscal deficits have grown very large (to almost 8 percent of mainland GDP) and aging pressures are only commencing. Therefore, Norway’s intertemporal financial net worth (IFNW) is negative, at about -240 percent of mainland GDP. As IFNW represents an intertemporal budget constraint, this implies that Norway’s savings are likely insufficient to address aging costs without additional fiscal action.
Maren Brede and Christian Henn
We construct a comprehensive public sector balance sheet for Finland from 2000 to 2016 by complementing general government statistics with data on public corporations and public pensions. We show that exposure to valuation changes in equity markets through asset holdings and increases in pension liabilities relative to GDP amplify crisis impacts on public finances. We expand the balance sheet by including present value estimates of future fiscal flows; this allows us to perform fiscal stress tests and policy experiments. These analyses suggest that Finland’s public finances will remain sound provided ongoing reform and consolidation efforts to address aging pressures are implemented as planned.