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 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.