A well-designed regional tax treaty to which developing countries are signatories will include provisions securing minimum withholding taxes on investment income and technical service fees, a taxing right in respect of capital gains from indirect offshore transfers, and guarding against-treaty shopping. A tax treaty policy framework—national or regional—that specifies the main policy outcomes to be achieved before negotiations commence would enable developing countries with more limited expertise and lower capacity for tax treaty negotiations to avoid concluding problematic tax treaties. This note provides guidance for members of regional economic communities in the developing world on what should and should not be included in a regional tax treaty and how to design on a common tax treaty policy framework for use in negotiations of bilateral tax treaties with nonmembers.
The paper provides estimates of the long-run, tax-adjusted, user cost elasticity of capital (UCE) in a small open economy, exploiting three sources of variation in Canadian tax policy: across provinces, industries, and years. Estimates of the UCE with Canadian data are less prone to the endogeneity problems arising from the effects of tax policy changes on the interest rate or on the price of capital equipment. Reductions in the federal corporate income tax rate during the early 2000s for service industries but not for manufacturing, which already benefited from a preferential tax rate, contribute to the identification of the UCE. To capture the long-run relationship between the capital stock and the user cost of capital, an error correction model (ECM) is estimated. Supplementary results are obtained from a distributed lag model in first differences (DLM). With the ECM, our baseline UCE for machinery and equipment (M&E) is -1.312. The corresponding semi-elasticity of the stock of M&E with respect to the METR is about -0.2, suggesting, for example, that a 5 percentage point reduction in the METR, say from 15 to 10 percent, would in the long run generate an increase of 1.0 percent in the stock of M&E. The UCE for non-residential construction is statistically insignificantly different from zero.
Claudia Gerber, Mr. Alexander D Klemm, Ms. Li Liu, and Victor Mylonas
This paper discusses how the structure of the tax system affects its progressivity. It suggests a measure of progressive capacity of tax systems, based on the Kakwani index, but independent of pre-tax income distributions. Using this and other progressivity measures, the paper (i) documents a decline in progressivity over the last decades and (ii) examines the relationship between progressivity and economic growth. Regressions do not reveal a significant impact of progressivity on growth, suggesting that efficiency costs of progressivity may be small—at least for degrees of progressivity observed in the sample.
Mr. Alexander D Klemm, Ms. Li Liu, Victor Mylonas, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
This paper assesses a possible explanation for the global downward trend in top personal income tax rates over the last decades: globalization and the related tax evasion and avoidance opportunities could have raised elasticities of taxable income, which would imply lower optimal tax rates. The paper estimates elasticities of taxable income for top income earners using a large sample of economies and years with a common method, allowing an analysis of trends in such elasticities. The paper finds that elasticities do not appear to exhibit any clear pattern over the years. The downward trend in tax rates must have other possible explanations, which are briefly discussed.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper discusses whether there is a more efficient way of taxing labor in Argentina that has a minimal cost in terms of foregone revenues. Social security contributions for dependent workers are generally high in Argentina, despite the plethora of different regimes and exceptions. A reform of labor taxation in Argentina would need to address these inefficiencies. Reducing the tax wedge would stimulate employment and formalization, especially if targeted to low-paid workers, as there is evidence that it’s their employment that mostly responds to tax incentives. Argentina’s tax and transfer system appears to be less progressive than the estimated optimal one. The simulations suggest that the proposed changes would have a positive impact on economic activity and formality, with a minor cost in terms of foregone revenues. Greater labor supply and wages in the formal sector push up revenue from labor taxation, compensating part of the direct cost of the reform.
With growing academic and policy interest in research and development (R&D) tax incentives,
the question about their effectiveness has become ever more relevant. In the absence of an
exogenous policy reform, the simultaneous determination of companies’ tax positions and
their R&D spending causes an identification problem in evaluating tax incentives. To
overcome this identification challenge, we exploit a U.K. policy reform and use the population
of corporation tax records that provide precise information on the amount of firm-level R&D
expenditure. Using difference-in-differences and other panel regression approaches, we find a
positive and significant impact of tax incentives on R&D spending, and an implied user cost
elasticity estimate of around -1.6. This translates to more than a pound in additional private
R&D for each pound foregone in corporation tax revenue.
This paper discusses key findings and recommendations of the Technical Assistance Report on Optimal Reform and Distributional Analysis of the Personal Income Tax (PIT). With regard to reforming the PIT schedule, it recommends that the basic credit be increased and made fully refundable to all taxpayers age 18 and older. To avoid paying this benefit to young singles, such as students, who generally have other means of support, it could be conditioned on a certain level of labor earnings. This credit should be rapidly phased out as labor income rises, and the initial PIT rate should be significantly reduced. The current top PIT rate does not need reform, although the threshold for that rate should ideally be raised.