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.
This paper examines tax revenue during the business cycle by estimating the relationship between tax revenue efficiency and the output gap. We find a positive and significant relationship between these variables; results are consistent for quarterly and annual data, and across advanced and developing economies. We also find that a worsening (improvement) in the VAT C-efficiency is driven by shifts in consumption patterns and changes in tax evasion during contractions (expansions). A key implication is that, particularly during major economic booms and downturns, policy makers should look beyond simple, long-run revenue elasticities and incorporate into their analysis the effects of the economic cycle on tax revenue efficiency.