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International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix focuses on two analytical approaches for judging whether the current account for Australia is sustainable. The paper implements the first approach, by asking how Australia’s net external liability position is likely to evolve over time, based on assumptions of future growth and interest rates. The paper implements the second approach by exploring the implications of a model of optimal external borrowing and lending. The main conclusions are also discussed in the paper.

International Monetary Fund

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.

Ms. Ling H Tan
Since 1990, Singapore has sought to control motor vehicle ownership by means of an auction quota system, whereby prospective vehicle buyers need to obtain a quota license before they can make their purchase. This paper assesses the success of the vehicle quota system in meeting its objectives of stability in motor vehicle growth, flexibility in the motor vehicle mix, and equity among motor vehicle buyers. Two important implementation issues-quota subcategorization and license transferability-are highlighted, and policy lessons are drawn for the design of auction quotas in general.
Mr. Stephan Danninger, Ms. Annette J Kyobe, and Mr. M. Cangiano
This paper analyzes interference and timeliness in the revenue-forecasting process, using new data on revenue-forecasting practices in low-income countries. Interference is defined as the occurrence of a significant deviation from purely technical forecasts. A theoretical model explains forecasting interference through government corruption. The data broadly supports the model, and the results are robust to alternative explanations. The paper also constructs three indices-transparency, formality, and organizational simplicity-that characterize revenue-forecasting practices, and assesses their effectiveness in producing an upfront-that is, timely-budget envelope. More transparent and simple forecasting processes lead to early budget constraints, while formality has no measurable effect.
Mr. Christophe J Waerzeggers and Mr. Cory Hillier
Advance tax rulings are a common feature of mature tax systems. The tax systems of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and South Africa all have established ruling practices. Taxpayers can obtain an advance tax ruling in nearly all OECD member countries. Increasingly, many non-OECD countries are also offering advance tax rulings. An advance tax ruling regime seeks to promote clarity and consistency regarding the application of the tax law for both taxpayers and the tax authority. However, there are also inherent risks associated with the proliferation of granting confidential advance tax rulings which are not published or otherwise reported. This Tax Law IMF Technical Note focuses on designing an advance tax ruling regime in the nature of private tax rulings.
Mr. Christophe J Waerzeggers and Mr. Cory Hillier
Tax avoidance continues to attract attention globally with strong support for tax law reform at all levels. This Tax Law IMF Technical Note focuses on some of the key design and drafting considerations of one specific legal instrument (being, a statutory general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR)) which is often considered by authorities to combat unacceptable tax avoidance practices. A GAAR is typically designed to strike down those otherwise lawful practices that are found to be carried out in a manner which undermines the intention of the tax law such as where a taxpayer has misused or abused that law. However, the objective of combating unacceptable tax avoidance can itself make the legal design of a GAAR complex. This is simply because the phrase “tax avoidance” means different things to different people. Whatever the form of a GAAR, it should give effect to a policy that seeks to strike down blatant, artificial or contrived arrangements which are tax driven. However, the GAAR should be designed and applied so as not to inhibit or impede ordinary commercial transactions. This Tax Law IMF Technical Note discusses and explores how drawing a line between those arrangements which should be caught by the GAAR is a matter of degree and can be delicate.