The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Has the VAT proved, as its proponents claim, an especially effective form of taxation? To address this, this paper first shows that a tax innovation-such as the introduction of a VAT- reduces the marginal cost of public funds if and only if it also leads an optimizing government to increase the tax ratio. This leads to the estimation, on a large panel, of a system of equations describing the probability of VAT adoption and the revenue impact of the VAT. The sign of the revenue impact is generally ambiguous, but most countries that have adopted a VAT seem to have gained a more effective tax instrument in doing so.