The IMF has advised country authorities to roll back tax expenditures as a way to support fiscal consolidation efforts—urging them to evaluate tax expenditures according to clear criteria, and assessing their impact on public finances, economic efficiency, equity, and administrative and compliance costs. This paper analyzes tax expenditures in Italy, considering the extent to which tax expenditures can be considered part of an optimal tax system and possible reforms.
Today’s record public debt levels in most advanced economies are not only a direct fall-out from the global crisis. Public debt had ratcheted up over many decades before, when it had been used, in most of the G-7 countries, as the ultimate shock absorber—rising in bad times but not declining much in good times. Alongside, primary spending increased, particularly during 1965–85, reflecting predominantly a surge in health care and pension spending. Looking ahead, advanced economies will face the formidable challenge of reducing debt ratios at a time when ageing-related spending, in particular often underestimated pressures from health care systems, will put additional pressure on public finances. Addressing these fiscal challenges will require growth-friendly structural reforms, a fiscal strategy involving gradual but steady fiscal adjustment, stronger fiscal institutions, expenditure and revenue reforms, and an appropriate degree of burden sharing across all stakeholders.