This paper evaluates elements of a comprehensive reform of the Italian tax system. Reform options are guided by the principles of reducing complexity, broadening the tax base, and lowering marginal tax rates, especially the tax burden on labor income. The revenue and distributional implications of personal income and property tax reforms are assessed with EUROMOD, while a microsimulation model is developed to evaluate VAT reform options. Simulations suggest that a substantial reduction in the tax burden on labor income can be obtained with a revenue-neutral base-broadening reform that streamlines tax expenditures and updates the property valuation system. In addition, a comprehensive reform would benefit low- and middle-income households the most, by lowering significantly their overall current tax liability, which results in increased progressivity of the tax system.
This Selected Issues paper examines implications of capital account liberalization in Iceland. Capital controls were critical in 2008 to avoid a more severe collapse of the Icelandic economy. Six years later, capital inflows have been liberalized, but most outflows remain restricted. Iceland has used the breathing room to reduce flow and stock vulnerabilities, strengthen institutions, and prepare for the lifting of capital controls. Simulations using the central bank’s Quarterly Macroeconomic Model (QMM) suggest that, compared with the 2008 crisis episode, the economy can better withstand the impact of an abrupt removal of capital controls. However, the outcome would be dependent on a number of factors, including resident depositor behavior.
Vincent Belinga, Ms. Dora Benedek, Ruud A. de Mooij, and Mr. John Norregaard
By how much will faster economic growth boost government revenue? This paper estimates short- and long-run tax buoyancy in OECD countries between 1965 and 2012. We find that, for aggregate tax revenues, short-run tax buoyancy does not significantly differ from one in the majority of countries; yet, it has increased since the late 1980s so that tax systems have generally become better automatic stabilizers. Long-run buoyancy exceeds one in about half of the OECD countries, implying that GDP growth has helped improve structural fiscal deficit ratios. Corporate taxes are by far the most buoyant, while excises and property taxes are the least buoyant. For personal income taxes and social contributions, short- and long-run buoyancies have declined since the late 1980s and have, on average, become lower than one.
Persistently high debt ratios in advanced economies and emerging fragilities in the developing world cast clouds on the global fiscal landscape. In advanced economies, with narrowing budget deficits, the average public debt ratio is expected to stabilize in 2013–14—but it will be at a historic peak. At the same time, fiscal vulnerabilities are on the rise in emerging market economies and low-income countries—on the back, in emerging market economies, of heightened financial volatility and downward revisions to potential growth, and in low-income countries, of possible shortfalls in commodity prices and aid. Strengthening fiscal balances and buttressing confidence thus remain at the top of the policy agenda. Against that backdrop, this issue explores whether and how tax reform can help strengthen public finances. Taxation is always a sensitive topic and is now more than ever at the center of policy debates around the world. Can countries tax more, better, more fairly? Results reported in this issue show that the scope to raise more revenue is limited in many advanced economies and, where tax ratios are already high, the bulk of the necessary adjustment will have to fall on spending. In emerging market economies and low-income countries, where the potential for raising revenue is often substantial, improving compliance remains a central challenge.
This paper investigates the role of government intervention in achieving the American dream of homeownership. The study analyzes the role of tax deductions in housing finance, including their impact on homeownership and housing consumption. The role of the Government Sponsored Enterprises in facilitating the creation of a secondary market for mortgage-backed securities is also analyzed as well as the role of the Federal Housing Administration. Cross-country comparisons of how housing is financed in other industrial countries is also provided, emphasizing how other countries have been able to achieve comparable homeownership rates as the United States in a less complicated and fiscally cheaper system. Country experiences of successfully phasing out government intervention are also analyzed.
A weakness of decentralization and overall tax reforms in Latin America is the lack of attention to adequate taxation at the subnational government. A reliance on shared taxes with extensive earmarking leads to weak subnational accountability and soft budget constraints. The paper explores the options for expanding subnational taxation in Latin America. A range of subnational tax instruments might be considered, but interactions between new tax assignments and the system of transfers is important from a political economy perspective.
This paper investigates the determinants of trend growth and total factor productivity (TFP) growth in the Netherlands, and underscores the importance of boosting structural reforms in the Netherlands. It examines the fiscal incentives and tax deductibility. The paper summarizes recent developments in the housing market in the country. It provides systematic empirical evidence on a key measure of volatility in different sources of tax revenues. It examines the role of business cycle fluctuations, the impact of the Dutch pension fund system, corporate location decisions, and other specific factors.
Australia's economy has continued to perform remarkably well, despite encountering major adverse shocks. Fiscal policy, with an objective of maintaining a balanced budget, will help support the economy. Maintaining a sound and stable macroeconomic environment is essential. Reforms of the personal income tax system are critical elements. A comprehensive reform of the complex system of income support payments would provide stronger incentives for labor force participation. Maintenance of competitive product markets will contribute to faster innovation and productivity and income growth. The financial system is sound.
Over the past few decades, a clear trend has emerged worldwide toward the devolution of spending and, to a lesser extent, revenue-raising responsibilities to state and local levels of government. One view is that the decentralization of spending responsibilities can entail substantial gains in terms of distributed equity and macroeconomic management. The papers in this volume, edited by Teresa Ter-Minassian, examine the validity of these views in light of theoretical considerations, as well as the experience of a number of countries.