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Mario Pessoa, Andrew Okello, Artur Swistak, Muyangwa Muyangwa, Virginia Alonso-Albarran, and Vincent de Paul Koukpaizan
The value-added tax (VAT) has the potential to generate significant government revenue. Despite its intrinsic self-enforcement capacity, many tax administrations find it challenging to refund excess input credits, which is critical to a well-functioning VAT system. Improperly functioning VAT refund practices can have profound implications for fiscal policy and management, including inaccurate deficit measurement, spending overruns, poor budget credibility, impaired treasury operations, and arrears accumulation.This note addresses the following issues: (1) What are VAT refunds and why should they be managed properly? (2) What practices should be put in place (in tax policy, tax administration, budget and treasury management, debt, and fiscal statistics) to help manage key aspects of VAT refunds? For a refund mechanism to be credible, the tax administration must ensure that it is equipped with the strategies, processes, and abilities needed to identify VAT refund fraud. It must also be prepared to act quickly to combat such fraud/schemes.
Mr. Ricardo Fenochietto
This paper analyses and compares two different groups of tools, the first to encourage the use of invoices (or payment systems) and the second to refund the VAT to low-income individuals. The analysis contributes to the existing literature by providing a clear characterization between these two groups of tools that are too often misunderstood and offers clear guidance to policymakers on the benefits and pitfalls of them based on available empirical studies and novel data analysis. Briefly, the first group includes a set of regressive and distortive tools (such as, allowing deducting the VAT paid on personal consumption from the PIT and reducing the VAT rate for using electronic means of payments or registration), while the second group includes tools that are less distortionary and improve income distribution (tax credits and VAT rate reduction targeted only at low-income individuals). This paper also finds that allowing the deduction of personal consumption against the PIT’s taxable base (i) did not impact positively the VAT revenue in Guatemala and (ii) worsens the income distribution in Ecuador.
Feng Wei and Jean-François Wen
Presumptive income taxes in the form of a tax on turnover for SMEs are pervasive as a way to reduce the costs of compliance and administration. We analyze a model where entrepreneurs allocate labor to the formal and informal sectors. Formal sector income is subjected either to a corporate income tax or a tax on turnover, depending on whether their turnover exceeds a threshold. We characterize the private sector equilibrium for any given configuration of tax policy parameters (corporate income tax rate, turnover tax rate, and threshold). Given private behavior, social welfare is optimized. We interpret the first-order conditions for welfare maximization to identify the key margins and then simulate a calibrated version of the model.
Mr. David Amaglobeli, Mr. Valerio Crispolti, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Pooja Karnane, and Florian Misch
This paper describes a new, comprehensive database of tax policy measures in 23 advanced and emerging market economies over the last four decades. We extract this information from more than 900 OECD Economic Surveys and 37,000 tax-related news from the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation using text-mining techniques. The innovation of this dataset lies in its granularity: changes in the rates and bases of personal and corporate income taxes, value added and sale taxes, social security contributions, excise, and property taxes are systematically documented. In addition, the database provides information on the announcement and implementation dates, whether the measures represent major changes, are part of a broader tax package, and phased in over several years. The paper also presents a range of stylized facts suggesting that information from this database is useful to deepen the analysis of tax policy changes for research and policy purposes.
Sebastiaan Pompe and Mr. Wolfgang Bergthaler
This paper discusses the recent major reforms in the area of civil and commercial claims enforcement undertaken by the Portuguese authorities in the context of the IMF/EU-supported adjustment program. The economic literature has long recognized that slow claims enforcement affects economic growth, foreign direct investment, credit and labor markets, and firm size. The Portuguese authorities together with IMF/EU staff deployed a novel approach that has focused on incentives tackling weaknesses in the enforcement process with the aim of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of claims enforcement and resolving court backlogs. The paper finds impressive quantifiable changes affecting, in particular, court backlog reduction, court processing speed, and private debt recovery. The economic literature suggests that this will impact positively on the payment culture and overall growth, even if such impact cannot be determined at this stage.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper considers features of the Luxembourg tax system that may be susceptible to changes in international tax transparency standards and surveys related policy options. Luxembourg’s predictable and generally low-rate tax system has helped establish it as a leading financial and commercial entrepôt and has supported its fiscal revenues. Its revenue base could, however, be susceptible to changes in the European Union and global tax environment. This paper highlights that to address potential challenges to Luxembourg’s revenue base, the tax policy review should explore selective rate increases and base broadening measures. Moreover, the tax practices should seek to avoid encouraging unnecessary complexity in corporate ownership structures and intragroup financial contracts.
Philipp Engler, Mr. Giovanni Ganelli, Juha Tervala, and Simon Voigts
Using a DSGE model calibrated to the euro area, we analyze the international effects of a fiscal devaluation (FD) implemented as a revenue-neutral shift from employer's social contributions to the Value Added Tax. We find that a FD in ‘Southern European countries’ has a strong positive effect on output, but mild effects on the trade balance and the real exchange rate. Since the benefits of a FD are small relative to the divergence in competitiveness, it is best addressed through structural reforms.
Mr. Michael Keen
This paper sets out some tools for understanding the performance of the value added tax (VAT). Applying a decomposition of VAT revenues (as a share of GDP) to the universe of VATs over the last twenty years, it emerges that developments have been driven much less by changes in standard rates than by changes in ‘C-efficiency’ (an indicator of the departure of the VAT from a perfectly enforced tax levied at a uniform rate on all consumption). Decomposing C-efficiency into a ‘policy gap’ (in turn divided into effects of rate differentiation and exemption) and a ‘compliance’ gap (reflecting imperfect implementation), results pieced together for EU members suggest that the former are in almost all cases far larger than the latter, with rate differentiation and exemptions playing roles that differ quite widely across countries.
Mr. Michael Keen and Ruud A. de Mooij
This paper focuses on two core tax design issues that arise in addressing current fiscal challenges. It first explores the idea, prominent in troubled Eurozone countries, of a "fiscal devaluation": shifting from social contributions to the VAT as a way to mimic a nominal devaluation. Empirical evidence is presented which suggests that in Eurozone countries this may indeed improve the trade balance in the short-run, though, as theory predicts, the effects eventually disappear. The paper then assesses the wider scope for VAT reform in meeting fiscal consolidation needs, developing and beginning to apply a methodology for finding additional VAT revenue in ways less distortionary and fairer than further raising the standard rate.