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Mario Pessoa, Andrew Okello, Artur Swistak, Muyangwa Muyangwa, Virginia Alonso-Albarran, and Vincent de Paul Koukpaizan
The value-added tax (VAT) has the potential to generate significant government revenue. Despite its intrinsic self-enforcement capacity, many tax administrations find it challenging to refund excess input credits, which is critical to a well-functioning VAT system. Improperly functioning VAT refund practices can have profound implications for fiscal policy and management, including inaccurate deficit measurement, spending overruns, poor budget credibility, impaired treasury operations, and arrears accumulation.This note addresses the following issues: (1) What are VAT refunds and why should they be managed properly? (2) What practices should be put in place (in tax policy, tax administration, budget and treasury management, debt, and fiscal statistics) to help manage key aspects of VAT refunds? For a refund mechanism to be credible, the tax administration must ensure that it is equipped with the strategies, processes, and abilities needed to identify VAT refund fraud. It must also be prepared to act quickly to combat such fraud/schemes.
Mr. Ricardo Fenochietto and Juan Carlos Benitez
This paper analyses and compares two different groups of tools, the first to encourage the use of invoices (or payment systems) and the second to refund the VAT to low-income individuals. The analysis contributes to the existing literature by providing a clear characterization between these two groups of tools that are too often misunderstood and offers clear guidance to policymakers on the benefits and pitfalls of them based on available empirical studies and novel data analysis. Briefly, the first group includes a set of regressive and distortive tools (such as, allowing deducting the VAT paid on personal consumption from the PIT and reducing the VAT rate for using electronic means of payments or registration), while the second group includes tools that are less distortionary and improve income distribution (tax credits and VAT rate reduction targeted only at low-income individuals). This paper also finds that allowing the deduction of personal consumption against the PIT’s taxable base (i) did not impact positively the VAT revenue in Guatemala and (ii) worsens the income distribution in Ecuador.
Mr. Paolo Mauro and Jing Zhou
Contrary to the traditional assumption of interest rates on government debt exceeding economic growth, negative interest-growth differentials have become prevalent since the global financial crisis. As these differentials are a key determinant of public debt dynamics, can we sleep more soundly, despite high government debts? Our paper undertakes an empirical analysis of interestgrowth differentials, using the largest historical database on average effective government borrowing costs for 55 countries over up to 200 years. We document that negative differentials have occurred more often than not, in both advanced and emerging economies, and have often persisted for long historical stretches. Moreover, differentials are no higher prior to sovereign defaults than in normal times. Marginal (rather than average) government borrowing costs often rise abruptly and sharply, but just prior to default. Based on these results, our answer is: not really.
Ms. Burcu Hacibedel, Pierre Mandon, Ms. Priscilla S Muthoora, and Nathalie Pouokam
This paper provides evidence of a strong relationship between the short-term dynamics of growth and inequality in developing economies. We find that reductions in inequality during growth upswings are largely reversed during growth slowdowns. Using a new methodology (mediation analysis), we identify unemployment, and youth unemployment especially, as the main channel through which fluctuations in growth affect future dynamics in inequality. These findings suggest that both the quality of jobs created and labor market policies are important to ensure that growth outcomes are conducive to inequality reduction.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper investigates the impact of exchange rate movements on private consumption in Uruguay. Uruguay is a highly dollarized economy, which makes the relationship between exchange rate movements and private consumption particularly complex. The paper shows that a large share of Uruguayan households is liquidity constrained, which allows the transitory real income shocks brought about by exchange rate pass-through to have a significant impact on consumption. Moreover, exchange rate pass-through is highly heterogenous, with relative prices of durables increasing (decreasing) following a depreciation (appreciation). This creates incentives for households to engage in intertemporal substitution where they buy durables when they are relatively cheaper. Data from Input–Output tables show that Uruguay produces a nontrivial amount of the tradable, durable goods it consumes, opening the door to contractionary depreciations. The results offer a potential explanation for the often noted ‘excess volatility of consumption’ in emerging markets for the case of Uruguay.