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.
We study historical tax revenue downturn episodes-where tax revenue-to-GDP ratios decline sharply-and explore the link between tax revenues and imports. We document that downturn episodes of at least 1 percentage point of GDP in one year are common. The tax types that account for these episodes are different in advanced, emerging and developing, and oil producing countries. We find that tax revenue downturns and import contractions have a statistically significant link. Finally, we show that changes in imports are a statistically significant determinant of changes in tax revenues even when controlling for changes in the output gap and in the terms of trade.