Cross-Country Evidence on the Revenue Impact of Tax Reforms

Authors: David Amaglobeli, Valerio Crispolti & Xuguang Simon Sheng

Many countries face the challenge of raising additional tax revenues without hurting economic growth. Comprehensive, cross-country information on the revenue impact of tax policy changes can thus support informed decision-making on viable reforms. We assess the likely revenue impact of various tax policy changes based on a sample of 21 advanced and emerging market economies, using granular information from the IMF Tax Policy Reform Database v.4.0. Our findings suggest that the revenue yield of a tax policy change varies significantly depending on the tax instrument adopted (e.g., VAT or personal income tax) and the nature of the change (i.e., rate, base). For example, in our sample, base-broadening changes to personal and corporate income taxes as well as to excise and property taxes have generally a more significant and long-lasting revenue yields than rate changes. By contrast, rate changes appear to have a relatively more significant revenue impact in the case of VAT and social security contributions. We also observe an asymmetry in the revenue impact of most tax policy measures when controlling for the direction of tax changes (i.e., its significance varies depending on whether taxes are increased or decreased). While our results are based on qualitative information of tax policy changes (i.e., dummy variables), the revenue yields of rate measures are not materially different from those that would be obtained using quantitative information on the size of the change.

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Keeping it Simple–Efficiency Costs of Fixed Margin Regimes in Transfer Pricing

Authors: Sebastian Beer, Sebastien Leduc & Jan Loeprick

Simplifying tax policy comes with costs and benefits. This paper explores simplification options for the taxation of MNEs, an area where administrative and compliance costs of the current rules are large. Simplified approaches seek to reduce these costs by relying on an approximation of the true tax base, potentially distorting resource allocation. We examine the efficiency cost of transfer pricing simplification theoretically and empirically. Using a sample of 300,000 firms located in 22 countries, we estimate that common transfer pricing practices reduce efficiency between 0.25 and 2.2 percent of total factor productivity across sectors. Focusing on the manufacturing sector, we then observe that simplification more than doubles sectoral inefficiency on average. However, large differences exist, with moderate efficiency costs in several sectors.

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Excess Profit Taxes: Historical Perspective and Contemporary Relevance

Authors: Shafik Hebous, Dinar Prihardini & Nate Vernon

This paper discusses the design of excess profits taxes (EPTs) that gained renewed interest following the COVID-19 outbreak and the recent surge in energy prices. EPTs can be designed as an efficient tax only falling on economic rent, like an allowance for corporate capital, and drawing some parallels with current proposals for reforming multinationals’ taxation. EPTs can be permanent or temporary as an add-on to the corporate income tax to support revenue during an adverse shock episode. The latter reflects experiences with EPTs during and after the World Wars. Different from that era, though, profit shifting is now a challenge. Estimation using firm-level data suggest that, at present, locations of excess profit across countries are consistent with profit shifting practices by multinationals. Destination-based EPTs can address this concern. Estimates suggest that a 10 percent EPT on the globally consolidated accounts of multinationals (on top of the current corporate income tax), with the EPT base being allocated using sales, raises global revenue by 16 percent of corporate income tax revenues. The analysis suggests that international coordination would be desirable to mitigate the risks of profit shifting and tax competition. Eventually, EPTs could mark an evolution of corporate taxation toward a non-distortionary rent tax.

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Home or Away? Profit Shifting with Territorial Taxation

Authors: Dominika Langenmayr & Li Liu

In 2009, the United Kingdom abolished the taxation of profits earned abroad and introduced a territorial tax system. Under the territorial system, firms have strong incentives to shift profits abroad. Using a difference-in-differences research design, we show that the profitability of UK subsidiaries in low-tax countries increased after the reform compared to subsidiaries of non-UK multinationals in the same countries by an average of 2 percentage points. This increase in profit shifting also leads to increases in measured productivity of the foreign affiliates of UK multinationals of between 5 and 9 percent.

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